Jazz legend Pharoah Sanders has died at the age of 81.
The musician was a key figure in the spiritual jazz movement, famous for playing the saxophone.
His cause of death has not been revealed, but his label confirmed that he died ‘peacefully.’
Luaka Bop began: ‘We are devastated to share that Pharoah Sanders has passed away.’
The label continued in their social media statement: ‘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.’
Born Farrell Sanders in Arkansas in 1940, the saxophonist got into jazz at an early age.
He started by accompanying church hymns on clarinet before he took up the tenor saxophone while he was at Scipio Jones High School in North Little Rock.
He kickstarted his professional career in 1961 after moving to New York City and playing with rhythm and blues bands.
From 1965, Sanders became a member of John Coltrane’s groups and took influence from Coltrane, going on to release over 30 albums as a leader.
Sanders collaborated with the likes of Leon Thomas and Alice Coltrane throughout his career, as well as playing well known jazz festivals around the world.
The late musician’s last album was titled Promises, a body of work he recorded in 2020 in collaboration with electronic music producer Floating Points and the London Symphony Orchestra.
Released in March 2021, the record was Sanders’ first major new album in almost 20 years and it was widely praised by critics.
Pitchfork, for example, branded Promises ‘a clear late-career masterpiece’ for Sanders.
Tributes have poured in for the saxophone player since news of his death broke, with jazz fans hailing him a ‘titan’ of the genre and encouraging others to listen to his work.