Monday, November 9, 2009

Charles Lloyd: The Dream Weaver

Charles Lloyd (saxophone, b. 1938)

Charles Lloyd is the epitome of jazz stalwart. He began his leadership during the height of the rock/political revolution in the late 60s. He forged an incredible partnership with fellow jazz giants Keith Jarrett (piano) and Jack DeJohnette (drums) to make a string of fantastic, complex and yet accessible albums including Dream Weaver (Atlantic) and Forest Flower (Atlantic). While these releases show only a brief Coltrane influence it would be almost two decades before he would record fully again.

Charles Lloyd took a brief hiatus from recording (briefly returning with Michael Petrucciani) and in 1989 began his now long-standing relationship with ECM Records with his debut album aptly titled Fish Out Of Water (ECM). It would be at this point that the Coltrane spectre would bloom. Lloyd's music would become dark and melodic but with an atmosphere that draws the listener into a new and highly dynamic world.

One of my favourite Charles Lloyd sessions is his second ECM album Notes From Big Sur. Notes From Big Sur is dominated by emotion and spiritualism that is very reminiscent of latter John Coltrane. But unlike many of Coltrane's late releases that would have spun into improvisational sessions, Notes From Big Sur keeps the listener engaged and waiting on every chord. Charles Lloyd has recorded eleven more album since, all of which are excellent. His current quartet features Jason Moran (piano), Eric Harland (drums) and Reuben Rogers (bass), and their latest work Rabe De Nube (ECM) is another stellar performance worth a listen, enough if you aren't an avid jazz fan.

Emotion, space and rhythm are the qualities that help one transcend on their journey through music. Let Charles Lloyd be your guide.

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