The all-star collaboration between a producer, a saxophonist, and a symphony is a celestial event. But it’s Pharoah Sanders’ playing that holds it all together, a clear late-career masterpiece.

Artist: Floating Points, Pharoah Sanders

Genre: Contemporary Jazz

Label: K7

Release date:

In a 2020 interview with The New Yorker, saxophonist Pharoah Sanders, who turned 80 last October, said he hadn�۪t been listening to records for a while. ���I listen to things that maybe some guys don�۪t,�۝ he said. ���I listen to the waves of the water. Train coming down. Or I listen to an airplane taking off.�۝ For most of Sanders�۪ career as an improvising musician, he was in a studio or on a stage with other musicians, and they listened and played together in real time. But he�۪s a listener as well as a player, able to respond to what he�۪s hearing and create beautiful art under different circumstances. His adaptability allowed him to work in a multitude of settings over the years, from harsh free playing through groove-heavy spiritual jazz and excursions into popular song.

In the past year, Sanders worked with Sam Shepherd, the British producer and composer who records under the name Floating Points, on a sweeping, nine-movement piece called ���Promises.�۝ Shepherd composed the music, played various instruments, electronic and otherwise, and enlisted the London Symphony Orchestra to perform it. Sometimes the piece is so quiet you might check your volume setting to see if it�۪s still on, and other times, when the strings hit a crescendo, it�۪s earth-shaking. In the middle of this tapestry is Sanders, his warm tone and fluid technique undiminished even at 80 years old, listening to his surroundings and finding brilliant patterns to stitch the work together and thus elevate it.

Credit:��Mark Richardson at Pitchfork

About the artist

The best musical mavericks never sit still for long. They mutate and morph into new shapes, refusing to be boxed in. Floating Points – aka Sam Shepherd – has so many guises that it’s not easy to pin him down. There’s the composer whose 2015 debut album Elaenia was met with rave reviews – including being named Pitchfork’s Best New Music and Resident Advisor’s Album of the Year – and took him from dancefloors to festival stages worldwide Credit: Ninja Tune

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