Floating Points, Pharoah Sanders & The London Symphony Orchestra – Promises (2021) [FLAC 24bit/44,1kHz]

Floating Points, Pharoah Sanders & The London Symphony Orchestra – Promises (2021)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/44,1 kHz | Time – 46:33 minutes | 404 MB | Genre: Classical, Jazz
Studio Master, Official Digital Download | Front Cover | © Luaka Bop

As many classically-inspired composers have moved from acoustic instruments into electronics, the possibilities of collaboration with jazz players has increased. Despite instrumental firepower and the best intentions, the history of jazz-classical blendings—specifically with tenor players like Wayne Shorter, Anthony Braxton and Ornette Coleman—has been mixed, finding the most success when the reeds are an integral part of the composition. Here the wise, eminently accomplished 80-year-old Pharoah Sanders—whose career has lived for the edges—has teamed with young UK composer Floating Points (aka Sam Shepherd) and the strings of the London Symphony Orchestra for a realization of Shepherd’s “Promises.” A collaboration of nine unnamed movements that run as one long (46:37) intricately constructed piece, Shepherd’s plethora of keyboards (many of them vintage synthesizers) effectively mesh with Sanders’ gift for breathy, urgent skronking. Recorded at Los Angeles’ Sargent Studio and London’s Air Studios, and mixed by Shepherd at EMS4 in London, Promises is dreamy, mysterious and close-miked to the point where you can hear Shepherd’s fingers on the keys.

Built around Shepherd’s slow, rhythmic repetition of a similar note pattern first on harpsichord, then organ and later on vintage analog synthesizers—and often rendered in a harp-like tone– Promises starts out slowly and quietly with a full-toned Sanders at his most accessible, at times aping the repetitive rhythm of this percussion-less composition. As Shepherd keeps up this pattern, he progressively adds keyboard lustres, and at the 10-minute mark plays a solo where he bends and twists notes on a synth, while Sanders wordlessly jabbers before adding robust phrases and statements on his horn. As the piece continues, the recurring pattern returns over which Sanders shows a rarely displayed lyrical side to his playing before a solo violin announces the entrance of the LSO conducted by Sally Herbert. The massed strings gradually build and the piece turns lush with high and low strings washing across the soundstage with gorgeous presence and majesty. Building to an early climax, Promises becomes a cinematic whirl of dense string textures before winding back down to just the recurring note pattern. At the 34-minute mark, another climax occurs as shimmering waves of synth textures dissolve into a twinkling stasis before the rhythmic pattern reasserts itself accompanied by simple loops that rise and fall in tone and volume. Sanders adds urgent assertions before smoothing out into a legato moan. Not surprisingly, Promises concludes with more B-3 organ, the sound of whisking on a loop, rising synth chords and the dramatic return of violins for a final flourish. While one can wish for more Sanders (or even more LSO), Shepherd’s skill with his gang of keyboards creates infinite musical forms and flexibilities that are the central feature of this scenic and assured sound. – Robert Baird

1. Movement 1
2. Movement 2
3. Movement 3
4. Movement 4
5. Movement 5
6. Movement 6
7. Movement 7
8. Movement 8
9. Movement 9