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" Ruff
Pharoah 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.


Where Sanders's serviceable if eerie new collection of Coltrane replicas is pure middlebrow market ploy, this putatively commercial move ventures into the unknown. With his fabulous sound, un-American activities, and grandly simple musical ideas, the man was made for Bill Laswell's world-jazz strategems. Lacking an "Upper Egypt" or "The Creator Has a Master Plan," he establishes his leisurely command, then immerses in an "Ocean Song" that is more former than latter before going out on the two friendliest, wildest, and most African of the six cuts. These highlight old Laswell hands Foday Musa Suso and Aiyb Dieng, and by the time they're over, you'll forget whether you remember the tunes.


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 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)