(Charles Lloyd, tenor sax/alto flute/tarogato; Jason Moran, piano; Reuben Rogers, doublebass; Eric Harland, drums/percussion)
Master jazzman Charles Lloyd celebrates his 70th birthday this month with release of his 12th ECM recording – the first with his new quartet featuring leading young jazz pianist Jason Moran. It’s a live recording made at a concert last year in Basel, Switzerland – called by the Swiss press “the concert of the century.” Lloyd has worked with a great lineup of pianists in the past, including Keith Jarrett, Joe Zawinul, Michel Petrucciani and Brad Mehldau. Moran has already demonstrated his far-ranging intellect and amazing technique and his fresh approach to the quartet’s improvisations ensures a very exciting album.
This is pretty advanced modern jazz, not in the free jazz bag but requiring some serious concentration and focus. Lloyd is a gifted jazz communicator and seems to be able to keep the listener – and the rest of his quartet – with him thru some very intense stuff. I don’t mind saying this is right at the edge of my personal taste, not being into loft jazz, but somehow Lloyd’s respect for jazz tradition keeps my interest. A striking ballad by a Cuban singer-songwriter, Silvio Rodriguez, is the album’s title and wraps up the performance. The other six tracks are all originals from Lloyd. La Colline de Monk (Monk’s Hill) benefits from Jason Moran’s early interest in Thelonious Monk, and Ramanujan is the one track making use of the brooding low sound of Lloyd’s Roumanian tarogato wind instrument. (He told a funny story about how he got it during his appearance at last year’s Portland Jazz Festival.) And his alto flute sings on Booker’s Garden, which Lloyd composed in memory of his late friend jazzman Booker Little. The versatile Lloyd sounds better than he ever has on his latest album!
TrackList: Prometheus, Migration of Spirit, Booker’s Garden, Ramanujan, La Colline de Monk, Sweet Georgia Bright, Rabo de Nube.
– John Henry