Saturday January 4, 2014 / 9:30pm (Pharoah Sanders Quartet)Yoshi's Oakland
How was your experience?
Pharaoh Sanders has been peculiar for a long time. Given the incoherent performance I saw by him 20 years ago my expectations were low. Something of a legend though and with some good recent reviews, it seemed a good excuse to finally make it to Yoshi's. Good decision. He now travels with his "quartet", the standard piano bass and drums and fortunately these guys are tight and prepared for idiosyncratic behavior. So when Pharaoh did not come to the stage until well after the open, then came on for a brief interlude with what sounded like a snake charmer's off key toot, then honked a bit on the sax and disappeared into a "closet", they just pushed on with relentless momentum never stopping an urgent drum driven energy while taking individual leads while the 3 all stayed in motion. Eventually Pharaoh took 3 or 4 more solo turns, not amounting to more than 20% or less of the whole show, but they were commanding and interesting solos that reminded me of the era of creativity from mid-century that ended the great age of jazz and now casts a shadow over the mechanical exercise we encounter in most modern jazz. This is not Trane, Miles or Sonny but he is of that living jazz camp instead of the museum jazz of the Wynton era. And though there was not too much gas in the tank and excursions beyond were rare, it was a pleasure to hear 70 or 80 minutes of vital jazz in Oakland last Saturday from an ambassador of a more vital time.