An Evening With Christian Nyampeta
A mixtape streaming temporarily on music platforms including iTunes, Spotify and Tidal, from 21 December 2020

8. Creation Plans

This is my own iteration of “The Creator Has a Master Plan”, the monumental creation by saxophonist Pharoah Sanders from 1969, co-composed and featuring percussion and vocals by Leon Thomas. “The Creator” has a daunting genealogy: soon after Sanders’ initial release as part of his album Karma, Thomas also released the song, but with the extended lyrics that had actually been included in the liner notes to Karma, first as a single and then on his album Spirits Known and Unknown (also 1969).

That same year, an abridged version of the song, again featuring Leon Thomas on vocals, also appeared on Louis Armstrong and His Friends, an album by the legendary trumpeter and vocalist, and, about a decade later, drummer Norman Wilson released yet another rendition. It is, in fact, Wilson’s version I heard first, not in its original form, but when it was sampled by producer DJ Premier of Gang Starr on his 1995 production of the Brooklyn hip hop group Das EFX’s then-popular track “Real Hip Hop”. The Das EFX song (and Pete Rock’s remix) used to light up the dance floors in the eastern part of the Netherlands where I was living in the early 2000s, when I was a DJ co-organising parties. More recently, “The Creator” was covered by jazz vocalist Dwight Trible in 2018.

A decade or so before that, around 2011, I myself recall editing Pharaoh Sanders’ epic 32 minutes and 48 seconds track and remixing it into a much shorter version for the mixtapes I was making for friends at the time. Indeed, “The Creator” is the first song I remember working on, and the current open and ongoing iteration the listener hears here emerges from the same process of looping the basic chords my untrained hands can manage to mimic and overlaying the track with changing elements resulting from various recording sessions.

Pharaoh Sanders’ “The Creator” is organised into an introduction, followed by a kind of prelude, after which a persistent phrase is repeated throughout the remainder of the track, with Leon Thomas’s vocals and throat singing appearing in quiet moments, as well as when the song accelerates into an explosion of free blowing. Through a half-hour-long ebbing and flowing of complete eruption and controlled rendition, the song evokes cries, screams, moans, prayers and hopes.

I resolved to edit the song out of motivation to move past the eruptions and arrive at the quieter moments of contemplation, but later I realised there was no merit in listening to one part of the song and not spending time on the rest. As a YouTube user comments on one of the song’s music videos on the site, “Pharoah’s song has created an aural image of the history of suffering and the triumph of the spirit over the physical world.”