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Pharoah Sanders, Legendary Jazz Musician, Dead at 81

ROTTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - July 14: Pharoah Sanders performs at North Sea Jazz Festival on Juli 14th, 2018 in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. (Photo by Peter Van Breukelen/Redferns)
ROTTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - July 14: Pharoah Sanders performs at North Sea Jazz Festival on Juli 14th, 2018 in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. (Photo by Peter Van Breukelen/Redferns)

Peter Van Breukelen/Redferns

Pharoah Sanders has died. He was 81.

Sanders' record label, Luaka Bop, shared the news in a tweet Saturday morning.

"We are devastated to share that Pharoah Sanders has passed away. He died peacefully surrounded by loving family and friends in Los Angeles earlier this morning. Always and forever the most beautiful human being, may he rest in peace."

The cause of death was not shared.

Born in Little Rock, Arkansas, the legendary saxophonist grew up collaborating with some of San Francisco's greatest saxophone players, including Dewey Redman and Sonny Simmons.

Pharoah Sanders, studio portrait, USA, 1968. (Photo by Gilles Petard/Redferns)
Pharoah Sanders, studio portrait, USA, 1968. (Photo by Gilles Petard/Redferns)

Gilles Petard/Redferns

In the 1960s, Sanders spent time with jazz legend John Coltrane and his band in New York City, and the group's music was groundbreaking.

"Coltrane's ensembles with Sanders were some of the most controversial in the history of jazz," reads Sanders' website. "Their music represents a near total desertion of traditional jazz concepts, like swing and functional harmony, in favor of a teeming, irregularly structured, organic mixture of sound for sound's sake."

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Following Coltrane's death in 1967, Sanders continued creating his own music. He released his most famous work, "Karma," in 1969. The album served as a pioneer for the spiritual jazz style, and featured one of his most famous songs, "The Creator Has a Master Plan."

GOTHENBURG, SWEDEN - AUGUST 09: Pharoah Sanders Quartet performs at Way Out West festival on August 9, 2019 in Gothenburg, Sweden. (Photo by Rune Hellestad - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images)
GOTHENBURG, SWEDEN - AUGUST 09: Pharoah Sanders Quartet performs at Way Out West festival on August 9, 2019 in Gothenburg, Sweden. (Photo by Rune Hellestad - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images)

Rune Hellestad - Corbis/Corbis via Getty

Sanders continued releasing music throughout the 1970s and 80s, earning a Grammy Award in 1989 for best jazz instrumental performance for the collaborative album "Blues for Coltrane: A Tribute to John Coltrane."

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In 2021, the saxophonist returned to the studio to record his final album, "Promises," a collaboration with electronic music producer Floating Points and the London Symphony Orchestra.