Monday, September 29, 2014

Charles Lloyd - Manhattan Stories (Resonance, 2014)

Charles Lloyd was at a turning point in his career when these recordings were made in 1965. Behind him, high profile sideman positions with Chico Hamilton and Cannonball Adderley. Ahead lay the very popular group he would lead in the late 1960’s, playing to packed rock halls and touring the world. Caught between these two spheres, lay these two concerts at Judson Hall and the infamous Slug’s nightclub, with Lloyd on saxophone and flute, Gabor Szabo on guitar, Ron Carter on bass and Pete LaRocca on drums. The Judson Hall concert on the first disc is very well recorded, open with Lloyd’s own composition “Sweet Georgia Bright” where the band is quite comfortable and allows for a series of excellent solos. Lloyd sounds confident and strong, with echoes of John Coltrane in his tone. Szabo has a sharp and angular guitar tone and Carter and LaRocca swing mightily. “How Can I Tell You” is a sensuous ballad, with a wistful hue. Szabo’s “Lady Gabor” appears twice, from both Judson Hall and Slug’s and Lloyd leads off with light and spritely flute before relinquishing the floor to the composer. Szabo seizes the opportunity on both occasions and builds lengthy, interesting solos, infused by his Hungarian heritage and also filled with sharp corners and flowing shapes. The spontaneous “Slug’s Blues” opens that venue’s set with a fast paced dive into strong, soulful saxophone playing and the rest of the band just rolling along with enjoying the space of an on the fly improvisation. “Dream Weaver” another Lloyd original rounds out the music with a lengthy swinging oration that has soaring saxophone lines and superb accompaniment. This was a very interesting set with the music at a very high level and the sound cleaned as much as possible. There is a fine set of liner essays and a hat must be tipped to Resonance Records who have unearthed two wonderful historical releases, Offering by John Coltrane and Manhattan Stories by Charles Lloyd. Manhattan Stories -

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