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Jazz Legend and Saxophonist Pharoah Sanders Has Died at 81

Jazz Legend and Saxophonist Pharoah Sanders Has Died at 81

Pharoah Sanders, NYC - 2019 (Image: Shutterstock / Lev Radin)
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LOS ANGELES (CelebrityAccess) – Jazz legend and saxophonist Pharoah Sanders died today (September 24), announced by his label Luaka Bop. He was 81. Luaka Bop wrote, “He died peacefully surrounded by loving family and friends in Los Angeles earlier this morning. Always and forever the most beautiful human being, may he rest in peace.” His cause of death was not disclosed.

Born Farrell Sanders on October 13, 1940 in Arkansas, he picked up the clarinet and drums while attending church, turning to the alto saxophone in high school. Sanders told The New Yorker, “I would rent the school saxophone. You could rent it every day if you wanted to. It wasn’t a great horn. It was sort of beat-up and out of condition. I never owned a saxophone until I finished high school and went to Oakland, California. I had a clarinet, and so I traded that for a new silver tenor saxophone, and that got me started playing the tenor.”

Sanders was a revered and influential tenor saxophonist best known for his work with John Coltrane in the 1960s. After moving to New York, he began collaborating with Sun Ra (who also gave him the name Pharoah), before becoming a member of Coltrane’s band. He played with Coltrane until his death in 1967.

Sanders’ best-known piece of music is “The Creator Has a Master Plan,” a performance from 1969. Originally split across two sides of the 1969 LP Karma, the track was later issued on CD as a single track, nearly 33 minutes long.

Throughout the early 1970s, Sanders continued to release records as a bandleader, largely on the Impulse! label. After leaving Impulse! in 1973, Sanders released albums on Arista and the avant garde jazz label India Navigation, before releasing a run of records on the Theresa label in the 1980s.

Sanders continued to tour and collaborate throughout the 2000s. In the mid-2010s, Sanders heard a composition by the British electronic producer Sam Shepherd, AKA Floating Points, and asked to collaborate with him. The resulting album, 2021’s Promises, recorded in 2019 with the London Symphony Orchestra. It was his first new album in more than a decade, and was widely acclaimed.

Paying tribute to Sanders upon hearing of his death:

Sun Ra Arkestra: “Pharoah Sanders Sun Ra Arkestra alumnus has departed this planet.
Oct 13 1940 – Sept 24 2022 Deepest Condolescences to all family and friends… He will be greatly missed.”

Floating Points: “My beautiful friend passed away this morning. I am so lucky to have known this man, and we are all blessed to have his art stay with us forever. Thank you Pharoah.”


Yasmin Williams: “Omg! RIP to an icon, a legend, a constant innovator, Pharoah Sanders. A very sad day.”

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