1/  Across Time                                                              17.06
  2/  Morning Tala                                                             7.45
  3/  Alankara (Beats of the Heart)                                            8.58
  4/  Gamaka                                                                   15.52
          Recorded and Mixed at Orange Music, West Orange, New Jersey
          Engineered by Robert Musso
          Additional Engineering : Oz Fritz
          Assistant: James Dellatacoma
          Material Inc: John Brown
          Axiom: Bill Murphy
          Invasion: Steven Saporta
          Produced and arranged by Bill Laswell
          Executive Producer: Alan Douglas
Pharoah Sanders: tenor saxophone, flute; Bill Laswell: bass, keyboards, flute; Nicky Skopelitis: electric sitar, guitar; Graham Haynes: cornet, electronics; Jeff Bova: keyboards; Trilok Gurtu: tabla, voice; Dr. Jean-Louis Zink: heartbeats.

          2003 - Douglas/Evolver/KnitMedia, EVL2015-2 (CD)
          2004 - Douglas Records (France), AD-01 (CD)


When this mellow CD came into the hands of the present reviewer, he had no idea that it was actually a sort of re-issue until informed of the fact by the ever-vigilant members of the Laswell discussion list.

It turns out that all the tracks on With a Heartbeat are taken from Chakra: The Seven Centers (Meta), with the spoken-word content removed and a throbbing, recurring (heart)beat added (by one "Dr. Jean-Louis Zink"). Not a word about this fact is mentioned either in the album note or press material.

Be that as it may, the proposition of releasing it in this form is an admirable one, for the music created by Pharoah Sanders and friends should be made available to those of us not necessarily in need of instruction in the physiognomy of yoga.

Four lengthy movements (two over fifteen minutes) comprise the soft, rhythmic suite that is With a Heartbeat. The legendary saxophonist Sanders, whose CV stretches back to the late work of John Coltrane, leads an all-star ensemble through a quiet ambient meditation with a slight Middle Eastern bent. The sound of the Laswellian cast of Graham Haynes, Nicky Skopelitus, Trilok Gurtu, and Jeff Bova are of course familiar to anyone with even a passing interest in the Bill Laswell songbook - the strands of sitar-like guitar by Skopelitus, the sensitive tabla work of Gurtu, the sensuously-treated trumpet of Haynes and, surprisingly, dabs of flute provided by Laswell on the final, most ethereal cut, "Gamaka".

As worthy and mature a work as one would expect from such a yeoman cast.

Stephen Fruitman (courtesy of the Sonomu website)


You will get the impression that With a Heartbeat, the new release by saxophonist Pharoah Sanders and cornetist Graham Haynes, is the beginning of something major. It is hard to say what it is right now because the album only offers four songs for consumption. But there is something brewing here anyway, and that is mostly due to the presence of Sanders, the clearest living link to the late John Coltrane. On With a Heartbeat, Sanders has probably gone to some of the places that Trane would go now were he still around. But he has also gone some places that weren't even imaginable when Trane was recording late in his life.

There is tabla percussion here as well as electric sitar and flutes. Then there is Bill Laswell, a fascinating producer with a growing reputation in many circles, who dares to challenge this talented bunch with nontraditional rhythm tracks that do their own improvisation. Then there are the heartbeats of Dr. Jean-Louis Zink, who seems to be the most important of all components at times. That is where With a Heartbeat begins, too-with Zink's beats. And from that moment on, it is clear that this album will be another one of those hard-to-define recordings that accommodates world music, jazz traditions, individuality and group cohesion. This isn't blues-based music either (though there is some blues here), but Sanders and Haynes are offering a sound that is clearly steeped in a constant spiritual rhythm.

"Across Time," the opening song, seems to go on forever as it darts in and out of itself, combining Laswell's deep, rumbling bass lines, Zink's ever-present heart and Sanders' magical horn play. "Across Time" is where you find Sanders with the high-pitched squeals he became famous for on his own solo work following his days with Trane. The voice work of Trilok Gurtu is the other notable ingredient here. He dominates "Alankara (Beats of the Heart)" with his voice improvisations, which proves again that the human voice is a jazz instrument of ever-expanding possibilities.

With a Heartbeat will leave you wanting more, but this is not a problem. The groundwork has been laid for more healthy explorations of this sort in the near future.

Brian Gilmore (courtesy of the Jazz Times website)