Pharoah Sanders 1971

Imagine you’re a neo-folk artist listening to “Astral Traveling” by one of your idols, Pharoah Sanders, back in 1971. Imagine that you’re John Martyn, the young folkie who just created the minor masterpiece Bless the Weather your first foray into a more modern type of English folk music. Although it was popular among folk circles and some wayward Anglophile fans, something was lacking. Imagine scoping out your peers around you and sensing this lack of advancement in style. Can you sense the giant steps needed to even approach the new grandeur and evolution that jazz artists, and other musicians from other styles were working with? As groundbreaking as a track like “Glistening Glyndebourne” was, it didn’t hold quite that same communion between spirit and provocation as anything on Thembi.

Thembi album cover.

Folk-rock, and neo-folk in general, had ways to go before reaching that kind of selfless righteousness. Somehow, some way, John would attain this feeling. For now, in this day of respite, take a load off with these gorgeous soul-stirring tracks from Pharaoh and wonder, just wonder, how John would achieve his task. For, Pharaoh it was his discovery of an electric piano that allowed him to do some aural astral traveling, for John…well, there’s more to that tomorrow…

Bonus track, a live performance of “Kazuko” from Journey to the One. Anglican and American, we’re all folk right?