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Encouraged by a visionary contemporary producer and patient ensemble, one of the most celebrated musicians on this or any other earth turns in a transcendental performance of air and fire. An instant jazz classic.

  • Artist
    Floating Points, Pharoah Sanders & The London Symphony Orchestra
    ReleaseProduct
    Promises
    Label
    Luaka Bop
    Catalogue Number
    LB0097
    Release Date
    March 26, 2021

    “Promises” was anointed pretty much straight out the gate as a masterpiece. Some bristled at the rush to canonise a record while it was still cooling on the windowsill, but let’s be real here: a new album from legendary 80-year-old musician Pharoah Sanders qualifies for merit alone. Hearing one of the greatest saxophonists on this or any other planet turn in a transcendental performance, patiently pacing before breaking loose with expressive freedom, is all the more a pleasure.

    Patience is the operative word to keep in mind when listening to “Promises”. By all accounts it took a while for Floating Points, aka Sam Shepherd, to convince Sanders to break his interregnum in the first place. While Sanders obviously does not require Shepherd to validate his art, perhaps he needed a younger foil to procure a late-career work of this scope. Although he remains a fixture on the touring circuit, when you tally his output in the 21st century, you don’t exactly need extra hands to count the number of albums Sanders has released. If you discount live recordings, you don’t even need your second.

    With one foot still in the enduringly colossal deep-digging DJ scene — see how any combination of FloPo, Four Tet, Mafalda, Antal et al sell out auditoriums within seconds — Shepherd has matured into a dependable album-artist in his own right. He has form working as a foil to elder statesmen, evinced early into his career by a set of fabulous collaborations with James Holden and now-departed gnawa master Maâlem Mahmoud Guinia. No matter where he travels in the future, the duty of care afforded to Sanders is surely a lock to be part of Shepherd’s all-time highlight reel.

    The album is anchored around a recurring seven-note leitmotif, and certainly doesn’t elide a gradual build-up. The first two of “Promises”’ nine movements are sparsely populated, which feels as if you’ve walked into a show ahead of time, as the supporting players are wiggling in their chairs and Sanders is readying himself with soft, low tones. Slowly Sanders begins to speak up — literally for a spell on ‘Movement 4’ — as the London Symphony Orchestra arcs and winds around his cyclical exhalations. By the album’s second half the intensity has demonstrably ramped up, as Sanders goes for broke and Shepherd hammers down on the organ. The dams have broken and the effect is riveting.

    It’s hard not to think about the Coltranes while listening to “Promises”. For one, Luaka Bop (founded by David Byrne and curated predominantly by Yale Evelev) released the sumptuous Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda compilation “World Spirituality Classics 1” in 2017, embellishing a knack for beautiful archival work which was already established by bringing Tim Maia and William Onyeabor to wider audiences. And then there’s the fact that Pharoah Sanders is one of the last living musicians who played alongside both Alice and John, plus Don Cherry, Sun Ra, Ornette Coleman, and many more besides.

    Sanders’ performance of air and fire here is sure to spark ideas and inspiration amongst jazz’s vibrant new generation. It makes “Promises” not just a link to the past, but a bridge to the future.

    Digital Tracklist

    1. 1 Movement 1 6:24 Buy

      Movement 1

    2. 2 Movement 2 2:31 Buy

      Movement 2

    3. 3 Movement 3 2:32 Buy

      Movement 3

    4. 4 Movement 4 2:31 Buy

      Movement 4

    5. 5 Movement 5 4:25 Buy

      Movement 5

    6. 6 Movement 6 8:50 Buy

      Movement 6

    7. 7 Movement 7 9:28 Buy

      Movement 7

    8. 8 Movement 8 7:22 Buy

      Movement 8

    9. 9 Movement 9 2:09 Buy

      Movement 9

“Promises” was anointed pretty much straight out the gate as a masterpiece. Some bristled at the rush to canonise a record while it was still cooling on the windowsill, but let’s be real here: a new album from legendary 80-year-old musician Pharoah Sanders qualifies for merit alone. Hearing one of the greatest saxophonists on this or any other planet turn in a transcendental performance, patiently pacing before breaking loose with expressive freedom, is all the more a pleasure.

Patience is the operative word to keep in mind when listening to “Promises”. By all accounts it took a while for Floating Points, aka Sam Shepherd, to convince Sanders to break his interregnum in the first place. While Sanders obviously does not require Shepherd to validate his art, perhaps he needed a younger foil to procure a late-career work of this scope. Although he remains a fixture on the touring circuit, when you tally his output in the 21st century, you don’t exactly need extra hands to count the number of albums Sanders has released. If you discount live recordings, you don’t even need your second.

With one foot still in the enduringly colossal deep-digging DJ scene — see how any combination of FloPo, Four Tet, Mafalda, Antal et al sell out auditoriums within seconds — Shepherd has matured into a dependable album-artist in his own right. He has form working as a foil to elder statesmen, evinced early into his career by a set of fabulous collaborations with James Holden and now-departed gnawa master Maâlem Mahmoud Guinia. No matter where he travels in the future, the duty of care afforded to Sanders is surely a lock to be part of Shepherd’s all-time highlight reel.

The album is anchored around a recurring seven-note leitmotif, and certainly doesn’t elide a gradual build-up. The first two of “Promises”’ nine movements are sparsely populated, which feels as if you’ve walked into a show ahead of time, as the supporting players are wiggling in their chairs and Sanders is readying himself with soft, low tones. Slowly Sanders begins to speak up — literally for a spell on ‘Movement 4’ — as the London Symphony Orchestra arcs and winds around his cyclical exhalations. By the album’s second half the intensity has demonstrably ramped up, as Sanders goes for broke and Shepherd hammers down on the organ. The dams have broken and the effect is riveting.

It’s hard not to think about the Coltranes while listening to “Promises”. For one, Luaka Bop (founded by David Byrne and curated predominantly by Yale Evelev) released the sumptuous Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda compilation “World Spirituality Classics 1” in 2017, embellishing a knack for beautiful archival work which was already established by bringing Tim Maia and William Onyeabor to wider audiences. And then there’s the fact that Pharoah Sanders is one of the last living musicians who played alongside both Alice and John, plus Don Cherry, Sun Ra, Ornette Coleman, and many more besides.

Sanders’ performance of air and fire here is sure to spark ideas and inspiration amongst jazz’s vibrant new generation. It makes “Promises” not just a link to the past, but a bridge to the future.

Bleep Album of the Year

Made especially for you, Luaka Bop have created an end of year vinyl edition

140g marbled vinyl
Die-cut gatefold sleeve

  • 152405
  • 152407

Albums of the Year 2021

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