Pharoah Sanders, A legendary Jazz Saxophonist, Died At The Age Of 81

Pharoah Sanders, the legendary American jazz saxophonist, has died at the age of 81. Sanders’ label, Luaka Bop, confirmed the news on Twitter.

“We are devastated to share that Pharoah Sanders has passed away,” the label’s statement read. “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.”

Farrell Sanders, born in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1940, began his career in Oakland, California.

After moving to New York in the 1960s, he began collaborating with Sun Ra, who gave him the name Pharoah, before joining John Coltrane’s band; Sanders remained with Coltrane until his death in 1967.

Pharoah Sanders

Sanders, like John Coltrane, was a key figure in the spiritual jazz scene. His 1969 album Karma, which incorporated traditional African and South Asian music influences, is regarded as one of the form’s seminal early works.

Sanders continued to release records as a bandleader in the early 1970s, mostly on the Impulse! label.

He appeared on Alice Coltrane’s Journey in Satchidananda in 1971, another landmark in modal and avant-garde jazz.

Sanders released albums on Arista and the avant-garde jazz label India Navigation after leaving Impulse! in 1973, before releasing a series of records on the Theresa label in the 1980s.

Sanders’ output slowed in the 1990s, but he continued to tour and collaborate throughout the 2000s. Sanders was approached to collaborate with the British electronic producer Sam Shepherd, AKA Floating Points, in the mid-2010s after hearing one of his compositions.

Pharoah Sanders

Sanders’ first new album in more than a decade, 2021’s Promises, was released in 2019 with the London Symphony Orchestra and received critical acclaim.

Shepherd paid tribute to Sanders on Instagram, writing, “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.”