Album of the Week: Floating Points, Pharoah Sanders & the London Symphony Orchestra | Promises

Pharoah Sanders. I don’t know about you, but when I hear his name, my mind immediately wanders all over the decades of mind-blowing, spirit-enriching music that Pharoah Sanders has given us. Its the stuff of legend. As Albert Ayler said, “Trane was the Father, Pharoah was the Son, I am the Holy Ghost.”

When reader Zach asked if I’d be interested in listening to an advance copy of Promises, the new album featuring Floating Points, Pharoah Sanders & the London Symphony Orchestra, I nearly jumped through the Internet to grab it. My response — That’s like asking one of our dogs if they’d like a bone!

From the accompanying Promises Press Kit:

Sam: Were you asleep? I’m sorry…

Pharoah: No no… I was listening… and dreaming… and listening to music in my head…

Sam: Oh wow… sorry.

Pharoah: Many times, people think I might be asleep… but in fact, I am just listening to music in my head. I’m always listening… to the sounds around me… and playing, in my mind… and sometimes I dream.

Sam: What were you dreaming about?

Pharoah: I’m on a ship. In the ocean. Bears coming around smoking cigars. The bears are singing, ‘We have the music. We have what you’re looking for.’

For anyone who feels even remotely the same way I do about Pharoah Sanders, you’re already searching for a place to buy Promises. The album’s official release date is March 26, 2021, on Luaka Bop Records. The limited edition 180G LP is available for pre-order right now. Go grab your copy, I’ll wait…

Promises, a composition for Saxophone, Strings, Keyboards and Electronics, was written by Sam Shepherd, aka Floating Points. I’ll go out on a limb and suggest Pharoah’s bears had what we’re all looking for — Beauty. Sweeping, stirring, majestic beauty. Promises is one of those rare beasts where seemingly disparate genres combine to form a singular work filled with fresh ideas, timeless beauty, serenity (who doesn’t an extra-large helping of that!), and classic, historically classic, karma chops.

Credit: Eric Welles-Nyström

Promises is for lovers of music in the sui generis genre.


Pharoah Sanders: Tenor Saxophone and Voice.

Sam Shepherd: Piano, Harpsichord, Celesta, Fender Rhodes, Hammond B3, Oberheim 4 voice & OB-Xa, Solina String Ensemble, Therevox ET-4.3, EMS Synthi, ARP 2600 and Buchla 200e.

The strings of the London Symphony Orchestra.

Recorded at Sargent Recorders, Los Angeles, California. Engineered by Sean Cook.

London Symphony Orchestra;
Written and arranged by Sam Shepherd, Conducted by Sally Herbert, Recorded at Air Studios, London. Engineered by Jeremy Murphy. Recorded by John Prestage.
Assisted by Ashley Andrew-Jones and Gianluca Massimo.
LSO lead by Carmine Lauri.
Score preparation by Olli Cunningham and Colin Rae.
Mixed by Sam Shepherd at EMS4, London.
Assisted by Tim Pennells.
Lacquer cut by Chris Bellman at Bernie Grundman Mastering.

Cover Painting ‘Congress’ by Julie Mehretu.
Photo of ‘Congress’ © Julie Mehretu.
Photo by Tom Powel Imaging.
Courtesy of the artist and Marian Goodman Gallery, New York.

Design and layout by Paul Diddy.

Photos in Los Angeles by Eric Welles-Nyström. Photos in London by Shawn Johnson.

Executive Produced by Yale Evelev and Eric Welles-Nyström.