Consisting mainly of Pharoah Sanders’ most famous song, “The Creator Has a Master Plan,” Karma is the most widely known of the tenor sax giant’s Impulse! albums spanning 1966 to 1973. The song, co-written with vocalist Leon Thomas, is by turns meditative and declamatory, with a long, cyclical form that starts out of tempo, eases into a steady groove (loosely based on the “Acknowledgement” motif from John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme), states a main melody and several countermelodies, bursts into a joyous double-time romp, then repeats the whole process. As a nearly album-length piece, it merits consideration alongside Ornette Coleman’s Free Jazz and Coltrane’s Ascension (the latter featuring Sanders). “Colors,” another Sanders-Thomas song, rounds out Karma much more concisely, in a floating and ethereal vein that recalls Coltrane pieces such as “Dear Lord” and “After the Rain.” Karma is pure psychedelic soul, a glorious convergence of Black Power and Flower Power. Its accessible groove is arguably related to some of the work appearing contemporaneously on Creed Taylor’s CTI label, though much harder-edged. Remarkably, Karma was recorded almost the exact same day as In a Silent Way by Miles Davis, and thus was truly a sign of changing times. Featuring James Spaulding on flute, Julius Watkins on French horn, and Nat Bettis on percussion, it’s also a key example of Sanders using expanded instrumentation and textures. Pianist Lonnie Liston Smith, drummer Billy Hart, and bassists Reggie Workman and Richard Davis complete the lineup, with Ron Carter and Freddie Waits substituting as the rhythm section on “Colors.”

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