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Pharoah Sanders, Revered Jazz Saxophonist, Dies At 81

He was known for his unique playing style and collaborations with John Coltrane.

Jazz legend Pharoah Sanders passed away on Saturday, September 24. He was 81.

The news of his death was confirmed by his label, Luaka Bop, on Twitter. “We are devastated to share that Pharoah Sanders has passed away,” the statement read. “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 Farrell Sanders in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1940, the American saxophonist was a member of John Coltrane’s groups during the mid-1960s and was identified as a jazz giant and a musical master.

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Sanders was known for his unique style, dubbed "spiritual jazz," which included harmonic and multiphonic techniques, as well as his use of “sheets of sound.” He collaborated with several jazz musicians throughout his career, like Don Cherry, Sun Ra, and Norman Connors, and he was a frequent collaborator with Coltrane. He worked on several albums with Coltrane, including Ascension, Om, and A Love Supreme.

Taz Arnold, a musician inspired by Sanders' avant garde work, reacted to the news of his death via Facebook on Saturday. “Pharoah Sanders sadly passed away today,” he wrote. “Today is also John Coltrane's birthday. Today I celebrate these two Jazz Giants and Musical Masters. Rest in Paradise brother Pharoah! We love you and will continue to celebrate both of you! The Creator has a Master Plan!”

Sanders' cause of death has not yet been revealed publicly.

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