Pharoah Sanders: Live at The East, 1972

From Performance Assembles Publics: Contact Improvisation as Landmark

The first time I speculated that improvisation could facilitate or even produce a mode of engaging art that was nothing like “consumption” was at a Pharoah Sanders performance. There was a moment when a couple in their mid-sixties was standing and cheering on Sanders during a solo, an act more of encouragement, or support, or coaxing than mere “applause.” Something was unfolding between this couple and Sanders, a sort of dialogue that was nearly related to “call and response” but something else entirely. There was a feeling happening that we were all part of that would not happen again in the same way.

So, a “live recording” might have the promise of capturing a moment like that, but Live at The East was not recorded at The East at all. The East, a Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn “educational and cultural center”1 that hosted a series of Sanders performances in 1972, had no budget for professional recording equipment. Instead, Sanders followed his string of performances in Brooklyn by bringing the community of The East to recording studios in Manhattan, where they supported him while making this recording.

1 The East was active from 1965 to 1986 as a music venue and cultural center dedicated to Black Nationalism and Pan-Africanism. More on the history of The East can be found here and here.

April 18, 2019

Curated by

Jeremiah Day