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Pharoah Sanders, influential jazz saxophonist, dies at 81

Jazz saxophonist Pharoah Sanders performs at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in New Orleans in 2014. The influential tenor saxophonist revered in the jazz world for the spirituality of his work, has died, his record label announced Saturday. He was 81. (Gerald Herbert/Associated Press file)

LOS ANGELES – Pharoah Sanders, the influential tenor saxophonist revered in the jazz world for the spirituality of his work, has died, his record label announced. He was 81.

Sanders, also known for his extensive work alongside John Coltrane in the 1960s, died in Los Angeles early Saturday, said the tweet from Luaka Bop, the label that released his 2021 album, “Promises.” It did not specify a cause. A phone message to Luaka Bop in New York was not immediately returned.

“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,” said the label’s message on Twitter, accompanied by a heart emoji.

The saxophonist’s best-known work was his two-part “The Creator Has a Master Plan,” from the “Karma” album released in 1969. The combined track is nearly 33 minutes long.

Born in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1940, Sanders began playing jazz in Oakland, California. He moved to New York City in 1961, where a few years later he joined Coltrane’s band and began slowly establishing his solo career.