Sanders takes on the Quiet Storm.
Michael Stack | North Chelmsford, MA USA | 10/25/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"In one of the great "what the heck happened" moments, free jazz legend Pharoah Sanders took a bizarre detour in the late '70s to smokey r&b-- "The Quiet Storm". It had been quite a while since he recorded at the time this was released, and no doubt that usual accusations of commercial sellout were distributed. As is often the case, the truth is somewhere in between.
Sanders' playing, like Albert Ayler's nearly a decade before, is actually far more remarkably suited for this sort of playing that anyone would guess-- his gentle, delicate soprano blends nicely with soft synths and his tenor playing can be expressive and warm or fierce to fit the mood of a given piece. Along the way, his former drummer who now was emerging as a vocalist, Norman Connors and Phyllis Hyman contribute vocals to several tracks.
The result is pretty mixed-- sometimes the magic of Pharoah Sanders' playing surfaces ("Pharomba"), but by and large, the pieces are pretty much sweet r&b and it seems at times that once it starts cooking, the vocals grow increasingly at odds with the leader's work ("Love is Here"). And certainly at least one song drifts way deep into pop and r&b ("Answer Me My Love", "Got to Give It Up") and doesn't fit Sanders at all. Still, he proves surprisingly sensitive ("Love Will Find a Way") and passionate ("Everything I Have is Good") at times, and sinks well into the groove the music calls for. And certainly "Pharomba" sits comfortably alongside anything Sanders has done.
It's not a bad record, and certainly Sanders' playing is every bit as passionate and fiery as on the early material, but in the end, it is a detour, both for the artist and the listener. I find it fairly pleasant listen, but keep in mind I love Ayler's "New Grass", and it doesn't particularly bother me when musicians try new things. If you're curious, try it out, but be warned-- it's likely not what you expect."
There are worse things in life
reuben jackson | washington, dc | 08/24/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"... than this admittedly softer, more radio-friendly incarnation of Pharoah. But like fellow saxophonist Gato Barbieri, the Little Rock native's sound ( and compositional approach) remains intact-occasionally sappy trappings notwithstanding... Like middle age, this date has grown on me.