On his adventurous album, ‘In the Key of the Universe’, the master organist Joey DeFrancesco turns his musical attentions to his spiritual side, tapping into a strain of metaphysical jazz that’s fuelled sonic searchers for more than half a century. Joining him on this path to musical enlightenment is the legendary saxophonist Pharoah Sanders.
’In the Key of the Universe’ arrives almost exactly 50 years after the release of ‘Karma’, the landmark album by Sanders. One of the primary exponents of spiritually-oriented jazz, Sanders makes three guest appearances on the album, including an update of his best-known track from Karma, the cosmically influential “The Creator Has A Master Plan.” Playing drums on that track was the great Billy Hart, who reunites with Sanders, as well as DeFrancesco. Hart makes up part of the core band along with percussion virtuoso Sammy Figueroa, who has played with almost literally everyone over the years, from Miles Davis and Sonny Rollins to David Bowie and Patti Smith to Mariah Carey and Diana Ross. The multi-talented saxophonist Troy Roberts, shows off his skills on tenor, soprano, alto, and even the acoustic bass. At the centre of it all is the always scintillating organ work of DeFrancesco, who retains his trademark robust swing and gritty funk while striking out in freer, more exploratory directions.
An artist who’s always been deeply attuned to the full history of jazz and able to tap into it in innovative ways, DeFrancesco naturally feels a profound connection to the questing, devotional jazz of forebears from Sanders to John Coltrane to John McLaughlin. It may seem like a change in direction, but unexpected travels into new territory has been a central tenet of DeFrancesco’s music throughout his remarkable career.
Inner Being / Vibrations In Blue / Awake And Blissed / It Swung Wide Open / In The Key Of The Universe / The Creator Has A Master Plan / And So It Is / Soul Perspective / A Path Through The Noise / Easier To Be
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