Forgotten Treasures

Forgotten Treasure: Pharoah Sanders “You Gotta Have Freedom” (1980)


If artistic freedom is hard to define than Free Jazz is even harder to define. Jazz can be considered the art of improvising and the melodic ancher that holds down a semblance of standard is the only constraint a player can define for himself. In all cases saxophonist and Coltrane disciple Pharaoh Sanders embodies all of the above.

The listener also has a personal threshold for the level of freedom he can enjoy in a jazz song and in my case, Sanders’ You Gotta Have Freedom represents the perfect balance of groove, melody, composition length and a hint of inspirational folly. Sanders always brought the best out of his musicians and the stellar vocals and piano in this piece are certainly no exception. But Pharoah’s blowing and over the top horn work are the true driving lifeforce of this song.

Pharoah Sanders - You Gotta Have Freedom Pharoah Sanders - Africa - You Gotta Have Freedom

The biggest surprise is that the versions of this track all came out in the 80s an era were most jazz veterans started an all too familiar downfall. Sanders only got better with age it seems and I have a hard time picking my favorite version since they both have their distinctive energy and flair.Finally, DJ extraordinaire and beat junkie J.Rocc amps it up even more with his edit. Pharoah’s music is the perfect gateway drug into the world of free and spiritual jazz and we can all benefit from the freedom his creativity urged him to display and the lack of constraint he imposed on his compositional discipline. Open your mind and enjoy these epic sessions.

J. Rocc - You Gotta Have Freedom

We also almost forgot about the amazing cover version of Freedom by Los-Angeles-based transcultural and intergenerational musical collective Build An Ark taken from their absolutely essential “Peace With Every Step” record.

Build An Ark - You've Gotta Have Freedom


DJ Asma

DJ Asma

A Montreal native with West-African roots, Antoine started developing a love for records when his father passed his collection of French, African, Caribbean and Brazilian classics onto him. Ever since, the collector turned selector has spent countless hours in musky basements both here and abroad (Dakar, Lima, Paris, Quito, Rio) in the never-ending search for the perfect beat!