Another spiritual jazz gem- "Live at the East" is one of the most consistently and astonishingly brilliant albums Pharoah Sanders has ever put out. This is somewhat surprising as Sanders was without both pianist Lonnie Liston Smith and vocalist Leon Thomas, both of whom contributed heavily to his previous albums and their success. In their place, Sanders had a pianist and a percussionist who would be part of his music for the next several years-- Joe Bonner and Lawrence Killian. In addition, a pair of musicians who would go on to enormous careers in other forms of music- bassist Stanley Clarke and drummer Norman Connors, appear here. The result is nothing short of astounding. The three pieces have the same vibe that most of Sanders' early work does- that spiritually informed free jazz sound. But with Clarke and bassist Cecil McBee, the pieces virtually all end up as features for the bass-- it's stunning to hear just how advanced Clarke, known for his electric bass skills, is on the upright. Opener (and lengthiest track) "Healing Song" is probably the most like Sanders' early work, with the leader stating the theme passionately before moving into an extended improv that included a fantastic bass duet. "Lumkili" revolves around drones, ringing percussion, and moaned vocals, and really serves as a framing for an extended bass dialog. "Memories of J.W. Coltrane" seems to point towards the far future-a fairly conventional theme statement over a framing piano line again with just unnervingly brilliant basswork and really gives Sanders a chance to show how stunning his reed playing is. Reviewed by Michael Stack.
This was briefly available in Japan on cd in 2004 but now long gone.This post is ripped from the original vinyl on Impulse.