Q (6/97, p.153) - 4 Stars (out of 5) - "...Here, he's at his Afro-mystical peak. Now one long, unedited piece, the disc allows the piece space to build..."
Personnel includes: Pharoah Sanders (tenor saxophone, balaphone); Carlos Garnett (tenor saxophone); Hannibal Marvin Peterson (trumpet); Joe Bonner (piano); Stanley Clarke, Cecil McBee (bass); Billy Hart, Norman Connors (drums); Lawrence Killian (congas, talking drums, balaphone).
Reissue producer: Michael Cuscuna.
Recorded at A & R Recording Studios, New York, New York on November 24, 1971. Originally released on Impulse (9219). Includes original-release liner notes by Thembi Sanders.
Digitally remastered by Erick Labson (MCA Music Media Studios).
As Sanders says: "The message is 'Black Unity Now.'" Pharoah's Pan-African instrumentation and compositional endeavors come to a singular head on this project, articulated in its single, multi-sectioned, 37 minute title track. The dynamics are entrancing, the groove hard, the pace brisk. Driving, polyrhythmic balaphone and percussion work meet Tyner-esque piano voicings and the Sanders saxophone wails we know and love.
Hannibal Marvin Peterson's trumpet and Pharoah's tenor screech out of the melody in accord--their amity is in the process and the product.. Characteristic of Pharoah's other work at this time, "Black Unity" rides an often static bass figure. In this way, while the improvisations may evoke the reflective or the frantic, an assertive central theme pervades in the lower register: determination (Does "A Love Supreme" rear its head towards the end?). The harmony is sparse, yet a profound sense of movement permeates throughout. Add exciting cymbal work, care of Billy Hart or Norman Connors, and the mix is complete. BLACK UNITY is a true highlight among Sanders' Avant-Garde articulations of Black cultural visions.
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