the other review (may be five stars - so they got that right) but sells Sander's spiritual blast that is "Black Unity " (from 1971)- very short. i got lucky with this having hired it from the London Barbican library back in '99 and was already under the spell of John Coltrane's broadly similar spiritual 60's free/modal jazz also on the Impulse records imprint.
"Black Unity" is an incredibly powerful and intense ensemble single movement thats builds in intensity with what might be compared to a combined horn ensmble sound to bring the walls of Jerico down style of biblical proportions. the recording combines the usual jazz ensemble ans also combined african instrumentation, and builds + builds upon a simple motif in intensity. "Black Unity" release is only 37 minutes long (in a similar vein and intensity to Ornette Coleman's "free jazz" LP + has similar large ensemble semi-free jazz intensity of John Coltrane's Ascension also), but is worth every penny as it features some fine fiery Sanders sax playing+ is a angry, spiritual,and intense blast of REAL jazz, not dinner jazz lite thats for sure...
In addition to the more typical jazz line-up and along with other personal favourites - yes, the widely acknowldged classic from Coltrane "A Love Supreme" from '65,"Africa/Brass" (from '61) and John's wife Alice Coltrane's "Ptah, the El Dhaoud" from 1970 (see my review also )and all on Impulse by the way - ALL amazed me and moved me, to learn of the "righteous" sound from across the atlantic.
"Black Unity" lasts for over 37 minutes - just one track - & if you're going to record a track THAT long then you've got to make sure you grab the listener's attention & don't let it go! "Black Unity" manages to do this.....& then some! That could be down to the incredible double rhythm section of Stanley Clarke & Cecil McBee on basses + Norman Connors & Billy Hart on drums...... Add some traditional african percussion & you have a relentless groove for Sanders & co to work their magic on! Fab!
I'm a big fan of Pharoah Sanders and was leadto this album after hearing John Coltrane's Ascension. I struggle with that record as musical enjoyment but as an experience and for emoting a response it's second to none. I listen to it before rugby matches to psych myself up because for some reason the "wall of sound" boils up inside me. Black Unity on the other hand is a far mellower album that Ascension and can be listened to for enjoyment as well as for those intrigued in the free jazz expressionism trailblazed by saxophonists such as Ornette Coleman and Trane.