Pharoah Sanders and Sam Shepherd Eric Welles-Nystrom/Shorefire

Little Rock-born saxophonist Pharoah Sanders doesn’t say much, so when he pipes up, it tends to speak volumes. So it will be later this month, when a collaboration between Sanders — a groundbreaking member of John Coltrane’s band in the fecund ’60s jazz scene, and later, a figurehead in the marriage of jazz and spirituality — and the London Symphony Orchestra strings gets released on Luaka Bop.

The nine-movement piece for saxophone, strings, keyboards and electronics is called “Promises,” composed by a British composer/producer/DJ named Sam Shepherd, who performs under the name Floating Points and who plays a number of instruments on the recording: piano, harpsichord, celesta, Fender Rhodes, Hammond B3, Oberheim 4 voice & OB-Xa, Solina String Ensemble, Therevox ET-4.3, EMS Synthi, ARP 2600 and Buchla 200e.

Eric Welles-Nystrom/Shorefire
Pharoah Sanders and Sam Shepherd

It’s Sander’s first new album since 2003, when the four-piece, 49-minute dub-tabla-sitar chillout marathon “With A Heartbeat” came out, featuring cornetist/collaborator Graham Haynes on electronics and bassist Bill Laswell on the album’s titular “heartbeat” theme. At 80 years old, Sanders might have made it the last work he ever released, but anyone who saw him in 2018 at North Little Rock’s Pulaski Technical College for the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame’s Distinguished Laureate Series knows old age — and possibly even death — are paltry barriers to Sanders’ sound.

Here’s a glimpse.


The album comes out digitally, on CD and 180-gram vinyl March 26, and features a painting by contemporary artist Julie Mehretu called “Congress.”