Anwen Crawford is TheMonthly’s music critic. Her new book is No Document.
In 2015, six years ago almost to the month, Pharoah Sanders, tenor saxophonist and a lion of jazz, last played in Australia. His set was performed with a local pickup band at Sydney’s Carriageworks, and reprised several compositions by the late John Coltrane, whose band Sanders joined in the mid 1960s – but these were not the tempestuous sound-paintings that would confirm both Coltrane and Sanders, on albums like Ascension (1966), as leaders of the free jazz avant-garde. Instead, Sanders reached back to the Coltrane of “Lazy Bird”, from the 1958 album Blue Train, and “Olé” (1961), the former a pacy workout in hard bop style, the latter a smoky, bluesy take on Spanish themes.
These compositions, more than 50 years old, were an indication of the sheer scope of Sanders’ musical understanding, which, when taken together with his frail physical bearing – white...
Nothing without context. Politics, society, culture.