Sam Sanders – Mirror, Mirror

Sam-SandersPhoto courtesy of Leni Sinclair

The latest release from 180 Proof Records is one that’s never seen a proper release since it was recorded, Sam Sanders Mirror, Mirror. Sanders was a Detroit saxophone legend who brushed elbows and played with such greats as Milt Jackson, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Sonny Stitt, Pharoah Sanders, and others. Often put in the same vein of John Coltrane, Ornette Coleman or Joe Henderson, Sanders mixed a distinctive and aggressive bebop sound with the Avant Garde. His most well known group, Sam Sanders and Visions (bassist Ed Pickens and drummer Jimmy Allen) combined bebop with Detroit Blues and made this unique player stand out in the Jazz crowd. He’d also taken part in other music projects with trumpeter Marcus Belgrave such as Creative Profile and big band ensemble the Pioneer Orchestra. His choice to walk a different path in his career resulted in many of his recordings not released widely or released at all. Sanders was inspired by artists like Stevie Wonder and various other Motown acts as he injected some Soul and Blues into his Jazz playing. Mirror, Mirror, which will please Jazz fans, beat junkies, and deep diggers alike, contains six very different songs with six very different sounds. “Inner City Player”, an abstract and funky side that will satisfy both Jazz and Funk heads, sits next to the melancholy “Face At My Window”. “Love Gain” is most likely the closest resemblance to a straight ahead Jazz tune, complete with female vocals and a very downbeat, mellow and free sax solo by Sanders. “Funk’ed Up”, a side which has so much going on on so many levels, could be considered the best Jazz Funk coming out of Detroit that you never heard. With the best of both genres (and more), Sanders keeps in down and dirty while his sax plays off of a gritty wah wah guitar throughout. Easily the best side on this record. The track “Loser” could be compared to any of the CTI releases that had Eric Gale or George Benson on them, mirroring if you will a similar sound that Creed Taylor was churning out at the time. A bit of the Blues injected into his Jazz once again. The last tune, “Summer Mist” is a downbeat Jazz piece that is so serene, you can picture Sanders at his most placid moment, preparing himself for a journey within on this one.


Sanders spent the last years of his life living in Senegal, Africa, a place he traveled to often. It was here he died in 2000, and was the first American buried in a cemetery there. While Sanders physically has left this earth, this release by 180 Proof (hopefully one of many) honors the player’s spirit through music. A lost key in Detroit’s music history unearthed by Amir and 180 Proof, this limited edition, orange, 180g vinyl will be available on September 17th, 2013. You don’t just have to be a Strat Records fan to love this. It will be appreciated by all types of music lovers. This release is another chapter in a book of musicians who would otherwise be lost to obscurity if not for the efforts of this very special label. Get your hands on a piece of history with this unique release. A prime example of an open mind as a player that will open the minds to listeners close to 40 years later.


Pre-order the record from the 180 Proof website.

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One response to “Sam Sanders – Mirror, Mirror

  1. Pingback: Flea Market Funk’s Year In Review | Flea Market Funk·

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