July 03, 2008


Pharoah Sanders was born October 13, 1940 in Little Rock, Arkansas, under the name of Farrell Sanders. He possesses one of the most distinctive tenor saxophone sounds in jazz. Harmonically rich and heavy with overtones, Sanders' sound can be as raw and abrasive as it is possible for a saxophonist to produce. Yet, Sanders is highly regarded to the point of reverence by a great many jazz fans. Although he made his name with expressionistic, nearly anarchic free jazz in John Coltrane's late ensembles of the mid-'60s, Sanders' later music is guided by more graceful concerns.

The hallmarks of Sanders' playing at that time were naked aggression and unrestrained passion. In the yearsafter Coltrane's death, however, Sanders explored other, somewhat gentler and perhaps more cerebral avenues -- without, it should be added, sacrificing any of the intensity that defined his work as an apprentice to Coltrane.

Pharoah Sanders (his given name, Ferrell Sanders) was born into a musical family. Sanders' first instrument was the clarinet, but he switched to tenor sax as a high school student, under the influence of his band director, Jimmy Cannon. Cannon also exposed Sanders to jazz for the first time. Sanders' early favorites included Harold Land, James Moody, Sonny Rollins, Charlie Parker, and John Coltrane. As a teenager, he played blues gigs for ten and 15 dollars a night around Little Rock, backing such blues greats as Bobby "Blue" Bland and Junior Parker. After high school, Sanders moved to Oakland, CA, where he lived with relatives. He attended Oakland Junior College, studying art and music. Known in the San Francisco Bay Area as "Little Rock," Sanders soon began playing bebop, rhythm & blues, and free jazz with many of the region's finest musicians, including fellow saxophonists Dewey Redman and Sonny Simmons, as well as pianist Ed Kelly and drummer Smiley Winters. In 1961, Sanders moved to New York, where he struggled. Unable to make a living with his music, Sanders took to pawning his horn, working non-musical jobs, and sometimes sleeping on the subway. During this period he played with a number of free jazz luminaries, including Sun Ra, Don Cherry, and Billy Higgins. Sanders formed his first group in 1963, with pianist John Hicks (with whom he would continue to play off-and-on into the '90s), bassist Wilbur Ware, and drummer Higgins. The group played an engagement at New York's Village Gate. A member of the audience was John Coltrane, who apparently liked what he heard. In late 1964, Coltrane asked Sanders to sit in with his band. By the next year, Sanders was playing regularly with the Coltrane group, although he was never made an official member of the band. Coltrane's ensembles with Sanders were some of the most controversial in the history of jazz. Their music, as represented by the group's recordings -- Om, Live at the Village Vanguard Again, and Live in Seattle among them -- represents a near total desertion of traditional jazz concepts, like swing and functional harmony, in favor of a teeming, irregularly structured, organic mixture of sound for sound's sake. Strength was a necessity in that band, and as Coltrane realized, Sanders had it in abundance.

Sanders made his first record as a leader in 1964 for the ESP label. After John Coltrane's death in 1967, Sanders worked briefly with his widow, Alice Coltrane. From the late '60s, he worked primarily as a leader of his own ensembles. From 1966-1971, Sanders released several albums on Impulse, including Tauhid (1966), Karma (1969), Black Unity (1971), and Thembi (1971). In the mid-'70s, Sanders recorded his most commercial effort, Love Will Find a Way (Arista, 1977); it turned out to be a brief detour. From the late '70s until 1987, he recorded for the small independent label Theresa. From 1987, Sanders recorded for the Evidence and Timeless labels. The former bought Theresa records in 1991 and subsequently re-released Sanders' output for that company. In 1995, Sanders made his first major-label album in many years, Message From Home (produced by Bill Laswell for Verve). The two followed that one up in 1999 with Save Our Children. In 2000, Sanders released Spirits -- a multi-ethnic live suite with Hamid Drake and Adam Rudolph. In the decades after his first recordings with Coltrane, Sanders developed into a more well-rounded artist, capable of playing convincingly in a variety of contexts, from free to mainstream. Some of his best work is his most accessible. As a mature artist, Sanders discovered a hard-edged lyricism that has served him well.

Kamal Imani was born Terrence Karlton Oats on September 17th, 1966 in Harlem NY . At the age of 3 after his parents divorced his mother moved to the Bronx , NY with his 2 younger sisters. He was recruited by the Junior Black Spades gang at the age of 7 and started witnessing situations that he didn’t desire or expect. He later moved to Teaneck NJ at the age of 9 with the assistance of his Grandmother Mrs. Mary C. Webb AKA “Sugarpie” and his Grandfather Henry C. Webb AKA “Pop” whom many would mistaken for Gladys Knight and Redd Foxx.
Watching his mother struggle working overtime for Ma Bell/AT&T and being a latch key kid, Kamal developed a sense of responsibility and protectiveness. He also developed a early sense of entrepreneurship and hustle. After school he would help ladies take their packages home for a few dollars.
One of his favorite quotes is “Everybody wants me to be what they want me to be, I’m not happy when I try to fake it” by Lionel Ritchie of the Commodores from the song “Easy like Sunday Morning”. This is due to Kamal’s many pressured influences. At 11 years old his grandmother worked for the NAACP and when asked by her and his aunt what he wanted to be when he grew up he said “either in communications, broadcasting or an astronomer” His grandmother said “you should want to be the first black president” which bothered him, but he remained determined to pursue communications and also developed a love for poetry and hip hop (his Grandmother gave him African American poetry anthologies to read).
His stepfather Shaka Zulu was and is a Harlem based Garveyite and was very strong with his instilling of his Pan African ideology. Kamal’s father was and is a Jehovah’s Witness and constantly attempted to pull him into that religion. His mother and grandmothers sides of the family went to both Baptist and Methodist churchs.

At the age of 16 Kamal’s 2 female cousins from the Bronx gave him the Autobiography of Malcolm X. His best friends taught him about the 5% Nation of Islam teachings and Kamal started hearing Minister Farrakhan on WWRL AM radio in NYC. This started him reading hundreds of books on spirituality, religion and African history. This is at a time when hip hop was new and on the rise and where Kamal use to write poems to please the young girls, now he was putting it to music.
He was invited to perform at high schools and house parties with his various hip hop crews. He later started promoting talent showcases at various Masonic lodges and making a good deal of money for a teenager. He learned a lot from those days and host several open mics to this day. He is also a radio host of the “Revolutionary Art Show” on Vocalized Ink Radio.

During hip hop’s Golden or Conscious age, Kamal was spitting fiery and conscious lyrics with a message. When he noticed the industry moving towards gangster music and he noticed that Russell Simmons was bringing a new wave of poetry back, he decided to let his message be heard through the poetry venue. In just 4 years he has emerged as a well known, loved and respected poet.

Kamal has been happily married for 12 years to his Bajan (From Barbados) wife and has a 2 year old son. His strong sense of responsibility for his family has caused him to approach the entertainment business with professionalism. He refuses to be viewed as anything but a top notch professional and rising star. He is a graduate of Teaneck High School , Bergen Community College , and Computer Career Training Center and is currently going for his Bachelors online via New York Institute of Technology with the goal of teaching in the inner city. Kamal is doing all of this while holding down a fulltime job at the Penguin Book Publishing Group where he is a Title Release Coordinator.

One of the open mics that Kamal host is at the Technology Resource/Khepera Center in Englewood NJ which houses the home offices and bases for infamous African historians Drs. Leonard and Rosalind Jeffries, Rev. Herbert and Dawn Daughtry, B.W.A.R.E (Black Women Against Racism Empowered) in which he is an advisor and lecturer for, African Medicine Women, Circle of Colors, African Drummers and Martial Arts Circle, The NOI Study Group and Mary K Cosmetics. He constantly participates with fundraising, marketing and networking efforts in his interactions with all of these groups.
He has poems such as “Lynch the N Word” which is primarily aimed at the youth and is being used by classes in the Paterson NJ school system as an educational tool. Also “You a Armchair Revolutionary” which encourages all of us to walk the walk and not just talk the talk. He helps keep the sister’s heads up with his dedication
“Ms. Melanin."

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