Sunday, 13 October 2013
Pharoah Sanders and The Underground
Main Stage, River Run Centre
Guelph Jazz Festival
Saturday, September 7, 2013 – 10 p.m.
If you had listened carefully the morning before, you might have forecast what you would hear at Pharoah Sanders' and the Underground's concert at the 2013 Guelph Jazz Festival.
Sanders is a legendary jazz saxophonist, who played with John Coltrane in his late ensembles in the mid-60s, and then in the 1970s with Alice Coltrane. He's also recorded with McCoy Tyner, Don Cherry, Ornette Coleman and many others, and released dozens of his own albums as a leader, playing in contexts ranging from aggressive free improv to more mainstream jazz.
As one of the main headliners at the festival, he was scheduled for a 9 a.m. public interview (jointly with Wadada Leo Smith) at the festival colloquium about his career and his music. Now that early on a Friday morning is not what I would describe as an ideal time for intense rumination, especially not by a jazz musician, or even by many listeners. While Sanders showed up on time, he wasn't particularly forthcoming, and the interviewer's fulsome introduction probably didn't help.
Questions asking him to reflect about why and how he played and his relationship to the audience got mostly short responses. Finally, he simply responded, “I don't feel I have to have an audience: I just play, whatever the spirit tells me to do that's what I do. It never ends. It's just what I do all the time. I don't feel the same way every day. The movements of my fingers ... I just let it happen. I don't come to play music: I come to play me.”