John Coltrane's death left a spiritual and creative void that was later occupied by his wife Alice Coltrane and saxophonist Pharoah Sanders – both members of his later groups. They picked up where Coltrane left off, marrying melodies with ambient-rich improvisations and introducing a new musical vocabulary through African and Indian percussion instruments, harps, chimes and vocal incantations, which became known as cosmic or astral jazz.
Sanders had gigged with everyone from Sun Ra, Don Cherry and performed on much of Coltrane's later exploratory albums. While he never turned his back on the more abrasive free-jazz of his days with Coltrane, he channeled the raw energy of music into something even more divine and combined elements of Arabic and Indian folk music, Afro-Cuban, Southern gospel and R&B into a string of solo albums on Impulse! from 1967's Tauhid to 1969's Karma, 1971's Thembi and through 1974's Love in Us All – with 11 total on the label.
The exceptionally diverse Thembi finds the musical explorer (on tenor & soprano saxophone and alto flute among other instruments) incorporating many different emotional landscapes and equally compelling moments of serenity and tension. Alongside Pharoah here are keyboardist Lonnie Liston Smith (who uses a Fender Rhodes electric piano for the first time), violinist Michael White, bassist Cecil McBee, drummer Roy Haynes, and percussionists Chief Bey, Majid Shabbaz, and Nat Bettis.