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Review: Pharoah Sanders offers top-notch jazz evening

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Monday, Nov. 15, 2010

On Saturday evening, Pharoah Sanders showed free jazz can be more than formless forays into near noise.

In one of the best jazz evenings in this city in years, Sanders explored his tenor sax at the August Wilson Center, Downtown. He did that in wildly inventive versions of songs such as a 40-minute version of "My Favorite Things" and his encore, "Giant Steps," the piece that is like a master's thesis for many musicians.

His play included aggressive flurries, deep tonal submerges and some high shrieks. Several times, he produced sound simply by disturbing the air with the motion on the keys of his instrument. He ended "My Favorite Things" with that sort of subtlety.

He was accompanied by longtime associate William Henderson on keyboards along with Pittsburgh's Roger Humphries on drums, Dwayne Dolphin on bass and George Jones on percussion.

Dolphin and Humphries, two of the city's finest jazz players, were taken to even higher levels in their tireless work. At one point, Henderson made a statement in a solo that Humphries responded to in a rhythmic manner.

It grew into a drums-piano conversation that was reflective of the powerful jazz of the concert.

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