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Originally released in 1974 on pioneering jazz label Strata-East, ‘The Sojourner’ by the incredible Ensemble al-Salaam would become one of the label’s most sought-after records. A highlight of the spiritual jazz movement, the record sees a band at the height of their powers, perfectly in sync as they express their spirituality through one ethereal groove after another. Album opener “Music is Nothing But a Prayer” sets the tone for the album, as gentle piano arpeggios, warm flute improvisations, and spacy guitar combine with the haunting vocals of Beatrice Parker to create a sonic atmosphere which seems to wash over you with every passing beat. The song picks up as a repeating bass riff emerges, with blaring saxophone improvisations contrasting with Parker’s clear vocals – yet nothing ever clashes. In comparison to the enveloping avant-jazz of “Music is Nothing But a Prayer”, “Malika” takes inspiration from late-career Coltrane, with sheets of sound-esque saxophone solos set to breakneck rhythms. “Peace (Salaam)” sees the group return to warm spiritual tones, with soft harmonies complimenting a beautiful melody to bring the album to a close.
For years, the only way to get your hands on this record was to spend your entire life savings, or pray that you stumbled upon it at a yard sale. With our previous two pressings selling out almost immediately, we knew we had to give this legendary record a third pressing. P-VINE is proud to be repressing this phenomenal album for the third time, now with a new and improved obi-strip!
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