Thursday, March 20, 2008

Charles Lloyd - Rabo de Nube (ECM, 2008)

This live album recorded by tenor saxophonist, flautist and composer Charles Lloyd was recorded on the group's 2007 European tour, with bandmates Jason Moran on piano, Ruben Rogers on bass and Eric Harland on drums. Each of the lengthy performances opens with a unaccompanied solo statement by one member for the band before the rest of the group group comes in and the the improvisation really starts of evolve. "Promethus" opens the program in a meditative fashion, with Lloyd's solo saxophone and some spare bells. Harland's dynamic drumming then kicks in and the performance slowly begins to build in intensity. There is a spacey piano and percussion interlude before the full band returns for the finale. "Migration of Spirit" is opened with solo bass before weaving saxophone and shimmering percussion enter to mark a mid tempo quartet improvisation. "Booker's Garden" opens with some deeply spiritual solo flute, before bubbling bass and drums kick things out of the navel-gazing groove into an improvisation focusing on crisply comped piano and whirling flute. There's a really inspired piano solo by Moran, alternately fierce and percussive, followed by a bit of bass and the return of the flute. This was the most impressive track on the album, and even at fourteen minutes the excitement never lagged. "Ramanujan" again opens with solo saxophone, sounding mysterious and alluring. A trio interlude follows with some fine percussion work from Harland. Moran increases the pace and leads the way to a most impressive performance. "La Colline de Monk" flirts with Thelonious, a natural for Moran, before segwaying into Lloyd's composition “Sweet Georgia Bright.” This is a strong album of probing, inquisitive modern jazz. As impressive as Lloyd is throughout this disc, it's the young supporting trio that draws the most attention. Rogers is rock solid soloing and in support and the percussive interplay between Moran and Harland is deeply satisfying. ECM would do well to encourage the three to make a trio album.

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