1/ Our Roots (Began in Africa) (Sanders) 10.21 2/ Nozipho (Sanders) 9.43 3/ Tomoki (Sanders) 6.26 4/ Ocean Song (Sanders) 8.49 5/ Kumba (Sanders,F.M.Suso) 7.50 6/ Country Mile (Sanders) 6.03 Recorded at Sony Studio, NYC and at Greenpoint Studio, Brooklyn, New York Engineering: Robert Musso Assistant at Sony: Danny Kadar Assistant at Greenpoint: Jean Pierre Sluys Drum coordination and pre-production: Artie Smith Produced by Bill Laswell Stolen Moments: Tony Meilandt Business Administration: Tracy McKnight Material, Inc.: John Brown Axiom Interface: Bill Murphy The Provider: Jean-Philippe Allard Mastered at Sony Studio by Tom "Curly" RuffPharoah Sanders: tenor and soprano saxophones, flutes, bells, bowls, vocals; Michael White: violin; William Henderson: acoustic and electric piano, vocals; Bernie Worrell: vocals, electronic keyboards; Jeff Bova: programming, electronic keyboards; Foday Musa Suso: kora, dousongonni, vocals; Dominic Kanza: guitar; Charnett Moffett: acoustic bass; Steve Neil: acoustic and electric bass; Hamid Drake: drums, tablas, frame drums, vocals; Aiyb Dieng: chatan, congas, bells, gongs, vocals; Salie Suso, Mariama Suso, Fanta Mangasuba and Fatoumata Sako: backgroung vocals.
1996 - Verve Records (Francce), 314 529 578-1 (Vinyl) 1996 - Verve/Polydor/Polygram (USA), 314 529 578-2 (CD)Note: Bill Laswell does not play on this album.
Robert Christgau (courtesy of the Robert Christgau website)
Out of the number of collaborations between Pharoah Sanders and Bill Laswell, this 1996 release is the most satisfying. The roots of the rhythms, instruments and vocals are strongly based on African traditions, with Sanders as the wise storyteller who refuses to allow history to be rewritten through the pens and keyboards of the manipulators in the political game, the conquerors in the resource wars and the slave traders who left trails soaked in tears.
Though the bolstered sound is through a variety of musicians and vocalists, the nucleus surrounding Sanders (tenor and soprano sax, flutes, bells, bowls, vocals) is Bernie Worrell (keyboards, vocals), Michael White (violin), William Henderson (acoustic/electric piano, vocals), Foday Musa Suso (vocals, kora, doussn'gouni) and Dominic Kanza (guitar). The programming is by Jeff Bova, who also performs on keyboards.
The central track is Ocean Song (8:49), which emits such sadness due to the soft waves and cool winds being used to destroy societies for unbridled greed; Sanders is calling back to the spirits and allowing them the space to journey through the false chronicles to calmly explain the reality. The song fades into the optimistic Kumba (7:50) and joyous closer Country Mile (6:03). A Sun Ra-flavored opener - Our Roots (Began in Africa) - has a powerful hip-hop groove over the solid 10:21, which propels the opening half of the musical sojourn - Nozipho (9:43) and Tomoki (6:26) - as Laswell is at his studio best; his "Wall of the World Sound" does not overpower the mix.
The message from Sanders is clear...when the eyes are open and ears are prepared to handle the truth.
5 stars out of 5
Mr. Richard D. Coreno (courtesy of the Amazon.com website)
The world music-minded producer Bill Laswell gets a hold of Pharoah Sanders here and lo, the sleeping volcano erupts with one of his most fulfilling albums in many a year. Message From Home is rooted in, but not exclusively devoted to, African idioms, as the overpowering hip-hop groove of "Our Roots (Began In Africa)" points out. But the record really develops into something special when Sanders pits his mighty tenor sound against the pan-African beats, like the ecstatically joyful rhythms of "Tomoki" and the poised, percolating fusion of American country & western drums and Nigerian juju guitar riffs on "Country Mile." In addition, "Nozipho" is a concentrated dose of the old Pharoah, heavily spiritual and painfully passionate, with a generous supply of the tenor player's famous screeching rhetoric, and kora virtuoso Foday Musa Suso shows up on "Kumba" with a touch of village Gambian music. This resurrection will quicken the pulse of many an old Pharoah fan.
3 stars out of 5
Mr. Richard S. Ginell (courtesy of the All Music Guide website)