Live review

SEED Ensemble and Guests: ‘Celebrating The Music of Pharoah Sanders’ (2020 EFG LJF)

SEED Ensemble and Guests: Celebrating The Music of Pharoah Sanders
(Barbican. 14 November 2020. EFG London Jazz Festival. Review from livestream by Tony Dudley-Evans)

Cassie Kinoshi. Photo Credit Mark Allan/ Barbican

‘Beauty’ and ‘simplicity’ were the two features that Cassie Kinoshi mentioned in her post-concert interview as having drawn her to Pharoah Sanders’ music. In this tribute to Sanders on the occasion of his 80th birthday. SEED Ensemble successfully reflected these features with a nicely varied set.

On this occasion SEED Ensemble was a 10-piece configuration with two trumpets, trombone, tuba, two saxophones, one doubling flute, piano, guitar, bass and drums. They were joined by guests on most of the tunes: Yahael Camara-Onono added African percussion on Elevation and stayed for the rest of the set. Ashley Henry played piano throughout the set, but was featured on Greeting to Saud: Brother McCoy Tyner. In a beautiful solo Henry really captured the spirituality of Sanders’ tune. Shabaka Hutchings playing clarinet on Astral Travelling, the tune written by Lonnie Liston Smith, but made famous by Sanders, also created a warm atmosphere aided by a supportive arrangement by Kinoshi. Singer Richie Sievwright joined the ensemble for a fine rendition of Love Is Everywhere.

The emphasis throughout was on Sanders’ compositions rather than his solo style, but tenor saxophonist Chelsea Carmichael did deploy some of his extended techniques on You’ve Got To Have Freedom.

Yahael Camara-Onono and Sheila Maurice Gray. Photo credit : Mark Allan / Barbican

Various soloists within the group impressed: Kinoshi herself on alto saxophone, Shirley Tetteh on guitar and Jack Banjo Courtney on trumpet. If there was perhaps a tendency for some of the tunes to veer off into extended features for one or two of the soloists, it is always a good thing to get back to the particular atmosphere and the spirituality of Pharoah Sanders’ music.

Shabaka Hutchings and SEED Ensemble. Photo credit: Mark Allan / Barbican

SEED Ensemble

Cassie Kinoshi leader, alto saxophone
Jack Banjo Courtney trumpet
Sheila Maurice-Grey trumpet, flugelhorn
Joe Bristow trombone
Hanna Mbuya tuba
Chelsea Carmichael tenor saxophone, flute
Shirley Tetteh guitar
Ashley Henry piano, also a featured guest
Rio Kai double bass
Patrick Boyle drums


Yahael Camara-Onono, percussion
Ashley Henry, piano
Shabaka Hutchings clarinet
Richie Sievwright, vocals

This concert was part of the EFG London Jazz Festival, and the Live from the Barbican series, which continues till 13 December 2020.

Celebrating the Music of Pharoah Sanders on the Barbican website

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