Pharoah Sanders, legendary jazz musician, dead at 81

ROTTERDAM, The Netherlands – July 14: Pharoah Sanders performs at North Sea Jazz Festival on July 14, 2018 in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. (Photo by Peter Van Breukelen/Redferns)

Peter Van Breukelen/Redferns

Pharaoh Sanders has passed away. He was 81 years old.

Sanders’ label Luaka Bop shared the news in a Tweeter Saturday morning.

“We are devastated to learn that Pharoah Sanders has passed away. He passed away 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.”

The cause of death has not been shared.

Born in Little Rock, Arkansas, the legendary saxophonist grew up collaborating with some of San Francisco’s greatest saxophonists, including Dewey Redman and Sonny Simmons.

Pharoah Sanders, studio portrait, USA, 1968. (Photo by Gilles Petard/Redferns)

Pharoah Sanders, studio portrait, USA, 1968. (Photo by Gilles Petard/Redferns)

Gilles Petard/Redferns

In the 1960s, Sanders spent time with jazz legend John Coltrane and his band in New York, and the band’s music was groundbreaking.

“Coltrane’s sets with Sanders were among the most controversial in jazz history,” reads Sanders’ website. “Their music represents an almost total desertion of traditional jazz concepts, like swing and functional harmony, in favor of a teeming, irregularly structured, organic mix of sound for sound.”

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After Coltrane’s death in 1967, Sanders continued to create his own music. He released his most famous work, “Karma”, in 1969. The album served as a pioneer for the spiritual jazz style and featured one of his most famous songs, “The Creator Has a Master Plan” .

GOTHENBURG, SWEDEN - AUGUST 09: Pharoah Sanders Quartet performs at Way Out West festival on August 9, 2019 in Gothenburg, Sweden.  (Photo by Rune Hellestad - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images)

GOTHENBURG, SWEDEN – AUGUST 09: Pharoah Sanders Quartet performs at Way Out West festival on August 9, 2019 in Gothenburg, Sweden. (Photo by Rune Hellestad – Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images)

Hellestad Rune – Corbis/Corbis via Getty

Sanders continued to release music throughout the 1970s and 80s, winning a Grammy Award in 1989 for Best Jazz Instrumental Performance for the collaborative album “Blues for Coltrane: A Tribute to John Coltrane.”

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In 2021, the saxophonist returns to the studio to record his latest album, “Promises”, a collaboration with electronic music producer Floating Points and the London Symphony Orchestra.