At WSJ on the new Charles Lloyd disc

‘I Long to See You’ by Charles Lloyd Review

A musician with a long history teams up with a new band to create a new sound

Saxophonist Charles Lloyd. ENLARGE
Saxophonist Charles Lloyd. Photo: D. Darr

In the ’50s and ’60s, jazz was shaken by a long run of premature deaths; these days, by contrast, many senior musicians are still going strong, not only playing but innovating. A prime example is the 77-year-old saxophonist Charles Lloyd.

In the ’80s, Mr. Lloyd re-emerged after a long absence, and his quartet, which recalls the solemn intensity of John Coltrane’s classic foursome of the early ’60s, became one of the leading bands in jazz. Now, on his latest recording, “I Long to See You” (Blue Note), he is featuring a new band, the Marvels, and a new sound. Through Feb. 20, he will tour North America and perform in several configurations, mostly with his new ensemble.

The Marvels has two holdovers from Mr. Lloyd’s quartet, drummer Eric Harland and bassist Reuben Rogers. But instead of a piano, which was usually played by Jason Moran or Gerald Clayton, the new band showcases two guitarists, Bill Frisell and pedal-steel master Greg Leisz. Mr. Frisell counts the band that Mr. Lloyd led in the ’60s with drummer Jack DeJohnette and pianist Keith Jarrett as a formative influence on his development as a musician. And the Marvels’ sound—rustic, built along the keening lines of the guitars, and leaning toward a jazz/Americana fusion—has been Mr. Frisell’s signature since he began leading bands in the ’80s. He and Mr. Lloyd met in 2013 and played together at UCLA’s Royce Hall; Mr. Lloyd invited Mr. Leisz to perform at that show, and the Marvels took shape.

“I Long to See You” leads with Bob Dylan’s classic “Masters of War,” but rather than reproducing the searing tone of the original, Mr. Lloyd is subdued. It is as if he is treating the song more as cultural artifact than protest anthem. The second piece, Mr. Lloyd’s spry “Of Course, Of Course,” rides the sort of limber rhythms found in Ornette Coleman’s early work. It feels like a holdover from the quartet, while the Dylan work is clearly a Marvel number. The recording goes back and forth between the two extremes before settling into the new style with a run of four pieces toward the end. Willie Nelson guests on “Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream” and Norah Jones covers the Billy Preston classic “You Are So Beautiful.” Both vocal performances are compelling, but Ms. Jones doesn’t quite get her song out of the shadow of Joe Cocker’s early-’70s version.

Mr. Lloyd has had a lifelong affinity for guitarists; he liked the bands he heard as a boy growing up in Memphis and his first bands in the ’60s that featured guitarist Gábor Szabó. Mr. Lloyd first made his mark with “Forest Flower: Charles Lloyd at Monterey” (Atlantic), a 1966 recording that was a substantial pop hit. His crossover success led to guest shots on recordings by the Beach Boys, the Byrds and the Doors. He retreated from jazz recording and performance and returned with “Fish Out of Water” (ECM), a 1989 recording that marked his full-time return to the scene. His quartet has become of one of the top groups in jazz, but this new recording shows him eager to tackle new challenges.



About jmartin437

I've worked in and around the world of high end cheese for 27 years. I've been everything from a department manager who hired and fired and trained staffs to a weekend warrior who shows up ties on an apron the middle of a rush and talks to customers and cleans up the place. I enjoy it all, and I especially like my current situation conducting informal seminars about cheese at area bars and in class at the 92nd St. Y. The current schedule is always up at In addition I conduct private events that are perfect to lead off birthday parties for foodies and sommeliers and also they make great entertainment for corporate team building events and associates meetings at law firms. In addition, I've been a freelance journalist for 27 years. Currently my profiles of leading musicians and filmmakers appear in the Wall Street Journal and I also wrote about sports for the Root, and for five loooong years, which included the entirety of the Isiah Thomas Knicks era, I wrote about the NBA for the New York Sun. I enjoyed writing about basketball so much that I now do it here at rotations for free.
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