Pharoah Sanders, Jazz Saxophone Great, Dies at 81

LOS ANGELES (CNS) – Pharoah Sanders, the great jazz saxophonist who played with John Coltrane and released more than 30 albums, died Saturday at the age of 81.

“We are devastated to share that Pharoah Sanders has passed away,” his label Luaka Bop tweeted Saturday. “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.”

Sanders was known for his multiphonic techniques on the saxophone, and was considered one of Coltrane’s major disciples.

He was born in Little Rock, Arkansas, and began his professional music career in Oakland before moving to New York in the early 1960s. He began playing with Coltrane in 1964.

Sanders’ website calls those ensembles “some of the most controversial in the history of jazz.”

“Their music 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,” it continues.

No cause of death was announced.

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