Charles Lloyd – “Sangam” – ECM

by | Sep 2, 2006 | Jazz CD Reviews | 0 comments

Charles Lloyd – “Sangam” – ECM B000EGCE9U, 75:00  ***1/2 (but see below):

(Charles Lloyd -Tenor and alto sax, tarogato, bass and alto flutes, piano, percussion / Zakir Hussain -Tabla, voice, percussion / Eric Harland -Drums, percussion, piano)

Charles Lloyd is certainly an accomplished sax player and composer.  However, I simply cannot develop a taste for him. Years ago, I purchased his release “The Call” based on a series of glowing reviews.  It never did it for me and is no longer in my collection.  For this reason, I’m going against the tide of superlative reviews for his newest disc.  I will say this though – if you do like Mr, Lloyd, you’ll be quite pleased with this effort.  It’s an interesting trio, mainly of sax/flute, tabla and drums with an Eastern influence.  As usual, ECM has done a masterful job of capturing the live performance from May of 2004 at the Lobero Theatre in Santa Barbara.  It was mastered by Bernie Grundman and the booklet is rich with gorgeous B&W photos. 

Lloyd is joined by Zakir Hussain on hand drums and Eric Harland on jazz traps. I would have liked to hear more of Harland and less of the others.  Charles Lloyd brings to mind a concert I attended at Dartmouth College.  I specifically went to hear Julius Hemphill as a member of the group.  Unfortunately, I was seated right in front of Don Cherry.  Mr. Cherry proceeded to completely dominate the music.  He kept droning on and on with his instruments and simply wouldn’t stop.  Many people like him, but I found his sound utterly boring after the first few minutes – way too much “sameness”. This feeling extends to Charles Lloyd.  To me, his lengthy solos, even though he’s all over the horn, also ultimately result in a uninteresting sameness.  Maybe it’s an amazing thing to say, but it strikes me as the free jazz equivalent of elevator music.  It’s just there with such great sonic repetition as to be wallpaper.  It’s the same with Hussain’s solos after the first one.  The only interest I found (outside of a couple of instances of” non-pianist” piano parts) was the work of Eric Harland.  Too bad he’s the one with the least amount of spotlight.  He’s always spectacularly solid and gives another fine effort here.

To summarize, Charles Lloyd fans will love this release.  It’s an outstandingly well-engineered live performance.  I, however, was left uninspired and don’t wish to cause someone to buy it based on only a bunch of positive reviews as  as I did years ago with his “The Call” CD.

Tracks:  Dancing On One Foot, Tales Of Rumi, Sangam. Nataraj, Guman, Tender Warriors, Hymn To The Mother, Lady In The Harbor, Little Peace.

– Birney K. Brown

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