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A Prayer Before Dawn

Pharoah Sanders

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Album Review

Recorded in 1987, A Prayer Before Dawn is one of Pharoah Sanders' gentle, reflective dates. Some jazz fans may cringe at his versions of "Christmas Song" and Whitney Houston's "The Greatest Love of All," but the music displays a heartfelt spirituality as opposed to financial slickness. It is the opposite of Sanders' characteristic fire-breathing tenor of his Impulse days, but there is nobility in taking this tranquil direction; Sanders refuses to repeat himself. He demands you listen with open ears, dropping preconceived notions. For instance, unlike the adult contemporary direction taken by one-time free jazz tenor titan Gato Barbieri, this date doesn't sound like a polished commercial venture as much as a quiet, meditative one. The use of tabla, sarod, and chandrasarang adds to the session's spiritual nature.

Biography

Born: October 13, 1940 in Little Rock, AR

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

Pharoah Sanders possesses one of the most distinctive tenor saxophone sounds in jazz. Harmonically rich and heavy with overtones, Sanders' sound can be as raw and abrasive as it is possible for a saxophonist to produce. Yet, Sanders is highly regarded to the point of reverence by a great many jazz fans. Although he made his name with expressionistic, nearly anarchic free jazz in John Coltrane's late ensembles of the mid-'60s, Sanders' later music is guided by more graceful concerns. In the free-time,...
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