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Charles Lloyd

Once again I've been seeing so much great music I'm behind in writing about it. Last week the super group Sangam,which means confluence in Sanskrit, with Zakir Hussain, Charles Lloyd, and Eric Harland played SF Jazz. Zakir supplied bass support with his tablas. The trio has a 2006 recording on ECM. It's hard to come up with superlatives that do these three geniuses justice. The Charles Lloyd Quartet (with Keith Jarrett, Jack DeJohnette, and Cecil McBee) was a ground breaking group that changed history, as did Zakir's work with John McLaughlin in Shakti. Eastern and Western music do become one. Opening with an alap, with Zakir chanting deep notes while fanning colors from his tablas, fingers a blur, Lloyd bridging East and West with hints of jazz and raga, and Harland providing colors from bebop to funk to abstract, it is new and fresh music of the highest order. A special treat was running into Zakir at the restaurant Dosa the next evening after another performance. Gracious, and regal, and humble, as are all great artists through which the music flows.

Sublime.  Last night Charles Lloyd performed in duet with Jason Moran as part of Moran's four night residency at SF Jazz.  There is a tradition in jazz of older musicians playing with, and championing, younger players.  Duke Ellington and John Coltrane, recorded in 1963, comes to mind.  Moran has been a regular member of Lloyd's New Quartet since 2007, and is 39 years old to Lloyd's 76.  Yet they play as equals, although it is unlikely Moran will achieve the cultural and artistic significance of Lloyd.  "Play it Brother"  Lloyd would whisper to Moran  throughout the set.  Featuring material  from their 2013 duo recording Hagar's Farm, the played primarily ballads.  Mood Indigo, Bess You Is My Woman Now, You've Changed, and the Brian Wilson penned, God Only Knows.  Moran plays with restraint, which lets Lloyd, and his almost supernatural command of technique, soar.  Among the handful of the world's greatest musicians, in any genre, Lloyd encompasses the entire history of the music, and of many other cultures as well.  Born in Memphis in 1938, Lloyd listened to Charlie Parker, Duke Ellington, Coleman Hawkins, and Lester Young.  Moving to LA to study at USC, he played with Ornette Coleman, Billy Higgins, Charlie Hayden, Eric Dolphy, and many other members of the West Coast scene.  In 1960 he became music director of Chico Hamilton's group, with whom I had the privilege of playing with many years later.  Charles Lloyd is probably my biggest musical influence.  Forest Flower, recorded live in 1966 at the Monterey Jazz Festival when I was 14, and already a jazz fan, took the music to a whole new level.  His young, unknown pianist, Keith Jarret, had a unique harmonic pallete that for some reason I immediately identified with.  And the rythym section of Jack DeJohnette and Cecil McBee, were revolutionary.  I got to see them at Fillmore West.  In the early parts of the concert last evening, the audience was quiet after solos, not wanting to break the spell.  "Georgeous!", a guy behind me whispered.  But from the middle of the show onward there was applause after each brilliant solo, both Jason's and Charle's, as they flew to ever greater heights.  Sublime indeed.     

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