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Happy Birthday Pharoah Sanders

This performance featuring tenor saxophonist Pharoah Sanders accompanied by pianist John Hicks was filmed live in Frankfurt, Germany in 1986.

Born Ferrell Sanders was born in Little Rock, Arkansas on October 13, 1940. He began his professional career playing tenor saxophone in Oakland, California and moved to New York City in 1961 after playing with rhythm and blues bands. The nickname "Pharoah" was given him by bandleader Sun Ra, with whom he was performing. After moving to New York, Sanders had been destitute: "He was often living on the streets, under stairs, where ever he could find to stay, his clothes in tatters. Sun Ra gave him a place to stay, bought him a new pair of green pants with yellow stripes (which Sanders hated but had to have), encouraged him to use the name 'Pharoah', and gradually worked him into the band."

Sanders came to greater prominence playing with John Coltrane's band, starting in 1965, as Coltrane began adopting the avant-garde jazz of Albert Ayler, Sun Ra and Cecil Taylor. Sanders first performed on Coltrane's Ascension (recorded in June 1965), then on their dual-tenor recording Meditations (recorded in November 1965). After this Sanders joined Coltrane's final quintet, usually performing very lengthy, dissonant solos. Coltrane's later style was strongly influenced by Sanders.

Saxophonist Ornette Coleman once described him as "probably the best tenor player in the world." Emerging from John Coltrane's groups of the mid-1960s Sanders is known for his overblowing, harmonic, and multiphonic techniques on the saxophone. Sanders has been an important figure in the development of free jazz.

In the 2000s, a resurgence of interest in jazz has kept Sanders playing festivals including the 2007 Melbourne Jazz Festival, the 2008 Big Chill Festival, and More recently at the December 2011 festival in Minehead, England.



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