In the 1970s, Sanders pursued his own recordings and continued to work with the likes of Alice Coltrane on her Journey In Satchidananda album. Most of Sanders’ best-selling work was made in the late 1960s and early 1970s for Impulse Records, including the 30-minute wave-on-wave of free jazz “The Creator has a Master Plan” from the album Karma.
This composition featured vocalist Leon Thomas’s unique, “umbo weti” yodeling and Sanders’ key musical partner, pianist Lonnie Liston Smith, who worked with Sanders from 1969-1971. Other members of his groups in this period include bassist Cecil McBee, on albums such as Jewels of Thought, Izipho Zam, Deaf Dumb Blind and Thembi.
The 1970s and beyond
Although supported by African-American radio, Sanders’ brand of free jazz became less popular. From the experiments with African rhythms on the 1971 album Black Unity (with bassist Stanley Clarke) onwards he began to diversify his sound. In the late 1970s and 1980s, Sanders explored different musical modes including R&B (Love Will Find a Way), modal jazz, and hard bop.
In 1994 he traveled to Morocco to record the Bill Laswell-produced album The Trance Of Seven Colors with Gnawa musician Mahmoud Guinia.
The same year, Sanders appeared on the Red Hot Organization’s album, Stolen Moments: Red Hot + Cool, on the track “This is Madness” with Umar Bin Hassan and Abiodun Oyewole and the bonus track, “The Creator Has A Master Plan (Trip hop Remix).”
The album was named “Album of the Year” by Time. Sanders worked with Laswell, Jah Wobble, and others on the albums Message From Home (1996) and Save Our Children (1999). In 1999, he complained in an interview that despite his pedigree, he had trouble finding work.In 1997 he was featured on several Tisziji Munoz albums also including Rashied Ali.
In the 2000s, a resurgence of interest in jazz kept Sanders playing festivals including the 2007 Melbourne Jazz Festival and the 2008 Big Chill Festival, concerts, and releasing albums.
He has a strong following in Japan, and in 2003 recorded with the band Sleep Walker. Sanders does have a family life. He live with them in Los Angeles, he has a daughter (13) named Naima Sanders [fellow musician] and a marvelous wife Tina Sanders (52). He currently has been selected for the NEA Jazz Master award and will be performing at the Ceremony in Washington DC in April, 2016.
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