Welcome to Love
Pharoah Sanders: Tenor and Soprano Sax
Bill Henderson: Piano
Eccleston Wainright, Jr.: Drums
Stafford James: Piano
One of the objectives of this blog is to introduce listener's to new names and faces, but also to do the same for possibly overlooked gems. It's fun to find that recording that you would never have expected to listen to, and end up loving it This CD by Pharoah Sanders fits the bill. I hope others reading this will feel the same way and pick it up.
I always associated Sanders with free jazz, with an abrasive keening saxophone sound, and an agressive approach to his music. I knew he was highly regarded and revered for his expressionistic, nearly anarchic play. He was in John Coltrane's late 1960s group as it moved into free jazz. Their music was almost a complete rejection of traditional jazz concepts, favoring a teeming, irregularly structured, mixture of sound for sound's sake. Sanders created music that relied heavily distortions of both pitch and tonal quality, following in the footsteps of Albert Ayler. The hallmarks of his playing at that time were naked aggression and unrestrained passion. I never thought I would buy one of his CDs.
What I had not realized was that after his work with Coltrane, Sanders explored another, somewhat gentler appraoch to his music, while retaining his passion and intensity. The apogee of this approach is this 1991 release "Welcome to Love". It features lovely ballads played with great attention to the melodies, with a lovely round and full saxophone sound generally not associated with Sanders. There is a moving version of "My One and Only Love" that parallels Coltrane's' version on his album "Ballads", which this recording resembles. Other highlights are "Nancy (with the Laughing Face)" and "Polka Dots and Moonbeams". The rhythm section is pianistWilliam Henderson, bassist Stafford James and drummer Eccleston Wainwright, all of whom take the same restrained approach to the music.
Altogether, the work is one of great expression and sensitivity. This is a lovely disc for anyone who likes ballads, straight ahead quartet play, and the lovely full sound of the tenor saxophone. Don't judge a disc by its cover or you will miss an opportunity to listen to a wonderful set.