Pharoah Sanders, legendary jazz saxophonist, dead at 81

Pharoah Sanders, a legendary saxophonist who inspired John Coltrane and pushed the boundaries of jazz toward spiritual music, has died, his record label announced Saturday. He was 81.

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Record label Luaka Bop, which released Sanders and Floating Points’ collaborative effort, “Promises,” in 2021, announced Sanders’ death in an Instagram post. No cause of death was provided, Rolling Stone reported.

Sanders died in Los Angeles, NPR reported.

“We are devastated to share that Pharoah Sanders has passed away,” Luaka Bop wrote on Instagram. “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.”

Born Oct. 13, 1940, in Little Rock, Arkansas, Farrell Sanders first emerged in the San Francisco area before moving to New York City, according to Rolling Stone.

“Unable to make a living with his music, Sanders took to pawning his horn, working non-musical jobs, and sometimes sleeping on the subway,” the saxophonist’s website said.

Sanders soon found work with fellow musicians Sun Ra, who persuaded him to change his first name to “Pharoah,” Rolling Stone reported. He also performed with Ornette Coleman and Coltrane, who was beginning to experiment with free-form jazz.

Sanders’ joined Coltrane’s group on tenor saxophone in 1965, when the artist recorded the avant-garde albums “Ascension,” “Meditations” and “Om,” the magazine reported.

Sanders’ signature performance came on 1969′s “The Creator Has a Master Plan,” which was split across two sides of the album “Karma” from the same years and later issued as a 33-minute track on CD, NPR reported.

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