barabara sounds sez:
Late-period Pharoah, and by this time (2003) he has mellowed substantially. The fire is muted but, like all the great players, he still has his tone and his edge.
Yes, much of the album is located well in the jazz centerfield, focusing mostly on down-tempo ballads. And yes the album includes 6 minutes of outright dross that you should program out of your playlist and your life for ever (look at the track listing and you know already which one I mean). But there are also some fine moments of pure Pharoah, especially on the three longest tracks.
Plus there's a reason why this album is memorable to me, at least. The last time I saw him play live was with on this same visit to Tokyo that he laid down these sides. With these same fine musicians in his group. In a small club, and from very close up. He's been back a couple of times since then (I missed the gigs) but who knows, I may never have that chance again...
Pharoah Sanders tenor sax; William Henderson piano; Ira Coleman bass; Joe Farnsworth drums
at Wonder Station, Tokyo.