Pharoah Sanders: “Balance” (Izipho Zam, 1973)
Sonny Sharrock, guitar
Lonnie Liston Smith, piano
Howard Johnson, tuba
When I was a young boy, I put on Stockhausen or Albert Ayler, and I said, “I hate this music. I hate it! But what is it? Who are these people and what the hell are they doing?” I don’t feel our young people get that feeling anymore, or when they think about playing jazz, they’re really thinking about idiomatic certainty. Jazz equals walking bass, drum set, chord changes, a particular kind of voicing. But it’s all a known space. If I knew what it was about then I wanted to go to something else, because I came to see that music wasn’t about just style. What attracted me to the discipline of music was this component that I couldn’t understand, but I could sense, in every kind of music. It helped me to see how little I knew about music. It also helped me to learn humility, because whatever you can do there’s always someone who can do it better. There’s always someone in a different idiom who can do something that pushes my buttons and makes me want to work harder because I’ve been inspired.