Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The Grand Soul Of Charles Lloyd

Last night, Premium T. and I had the pleasure of seeing the great Charles Lloyd lead a brilliant quartet through a superb 75-minute set at Seattle's Triple Door. At 70, Lloyd, one of the finest post-Coltrane reed players, continues to compose and play vibrant, transcendental music that inspired repeated ovations from awed patrons. The quartet, which includes pianist Jason Moran, double bassist Reuben Rogers, and drummer Eric Harland, communicated among themselves in a nearly palpable manner, exchanging musical ideas that coalesced into a single, concentrated thought.

Lloyd generally began each number with a soft, unaccompanied notes from either a soprano or tenor sax. Slowly, the band joined in as Lloyd's solo gathered momentum and then gave way to someone else. He generously and democratically gave each plenty of space, and it paid off repeatedly. Moran's hands were a constant blur, although neither his solos nor his accompaniment betrayed the slightest busy-ness or ornamentation. Harland  is an incredibly inventive drummer who was a pleasure to watch. (Read his amazing personal story here.) As for Rogers, it beats me how a man can be so virtuoso when he plays a huge upright instrument with strings like cables and fretless neck the length of the Brooklyn Bridge.

Each composition developed into an incredibly intricate exploration of four fine minds effecting the creative soul of a single grand genius. I've seen gifted A-list soloists before, but they never executed with the kind of cohesion and vision of these four men. Once everyone had their say, Charles Lloyd stepped up for one more solo that trailed off softly, began to close the door, then reopened it for a few more soothing words, then a few more, then...

I leave you with this Charles Simic poem, included with Rabo de Nube, Lloyd's most recent CD:

Two for Charles Lloyd
The sound of flute,
That purest of instruments,
Close to breath,
Close to wind in the leaves.

Voice of solitude.
Voice of insomnia.
Call of a night bird.
Continuous prayer.

The instrument of
Lone shepherds
Sitting cross-legged
Nomads setting out in their caravans

Under a sky full of stars.
The mystery of this moment,
That sudden realization
That we have a soul.

Late night talk
On a tenor
With the dead
And the shadows they cast.

memories of dark cities,
Rain-slicked streets,
After-hour clubs
With deep stairwells,
The thrum of bass and drum.

Company of phantoms,
Be-bop greats
On the band stand
The one in shimmering evening gown
Stepping down.

"Sweet Georgia,"
I hear someone whispering,
"Without this music,
Life would be a mistake."

1 comment:

Premium T. said...

It was indeed an amazing show.
Thank-you for taking me!