Friday, March 1, 2013

Charles Lloyd & Jason Moran: Hagar's Song

Jason Moran (piano)
Charles Lloyd (sax)
Hagar's Song (ECM Records; 2013)

One legend and one future legend meet in the studio... When Charles Lloyd and Jason Moran first started playing together a few years ago, I thought it was a fantastic meeting of creative minds. Over the course of a couple of records they have demonstrated deep beauty and an understanding of how each moves lyrically.

Now on their first venture as a duo without a quartet or ensemble, they show just how grand their relationship has become. Hagar's Song is a brilliantly extensive and emotional session with multiple stories. The performances are full-boded and encapsulating. This session at times reminded me of two sessions made by the late, Frank Morgan (sax) with George Cables and John Hicks on piano. Contemporary yet technically well constructed.

"Mood Indigo" and "Rosetta" swing along gently with class and verve. Moran is playful yet always intricate at the keys on both tracks. While Lloyd's horn adds the mature element of a master. Beautifully executed and thoroughly rewarding especially during the swirling improvised sections in "Rosetta".

"Hagar's Lullaby" and "Journey Up River" feel like explorations in emotional distances. Both capture an ethereal vibe that resemble some of Lloyd's early 60s and 70s work. Moran's playing is solid and conventional in a calm manner that lends itself perfectly to introspection. The session closes with the soft ballad, "God Only Knows." A superb blend of love and longing that leaves a lasting impression on the ears and memory.

Hagar's Song has Moran and Lloyd in stellar form and sounding cool and contemporary. It's cuts against the more adventurous nature you may have heard Moran in on his own albums. But it's an excellent balance for both musicians. I loved this session. It's easily one of my albums of the year. And I can't stop listening to it. Highly Recommended.

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