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Pharoah Sanders and Odean Pope, Tenor Sax Oracles, Join Rhonda Hamilton in Conversation

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Jack Vartoogian
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Pharoah Sanders (left) and Odean Pope (center), with James Carter at the Blue Note, Sept. 10, 2014.

As WBGO prepares to bid farewell to Rhonda Hamilton, we're dipping into our archives to share some of her favorite interviews from years past. 

She conducted this one, with Odean Pope and Pharoah Sanders, in 2014.

Those two powerful voices on the tenor saxophone, both originally hailing from the south, were promoting an engagement at the Blue Note by Pope’s Saxophone Choir. (Also on the gig: a third tenor, James Carter, and a rhythm section spearheaded by pianist Geri Allen.)

“I was trying to capture that big sound that the Baptist choir had,” Odean told Rhonda about his intention with the ensemble. He added: “The saxophone has the closest sound to the human voice.

Pope, a stalwart presence in his adopted hometown of Philadelphia, and Sanders, an avant-garde legend and NEA Jazz Master, also talked with Rhonda about the role of mathematics in jazz, the lessons of John Coltrane, and the expression of spirituality in music.

Pharoah Sanders will perform at the John Coltrane International Jazz & Blues Festival in High Point, N.C., on Sept. 1.