Sunday, March 01, 2020

Charles Lloyd - 8: Kindred Spirits (Live From The Lobero) (Blue Note, 2020)

Legendary saxophonist Charles Lloyd celebrated his 80th birthday in his adopted hometown playing live at Santa Barbara’s Lobero Theatre. Performing with him on the standard release of this album is Julian Lage, on guitar, Gerald Clayton on piano, Reuben Rogers on bass, and Eric Harland on drums. There is also a superfluous deluxe edition with musical guests, CDs, LP's, a DVD and hardcover book. Lloyd and his younger charges are locked in from this get go, playing a lengthy version of the well known Lloyd original "Dream Weaver" which, after a crushing intro, leads to spacey sensation with subtle saxophone and drumming. Gentle melodic are phrases framed by the piano, gradually gaining momentum as an impressive full band improvisation takes flight. The rhythm section plus guitar really soars when Lloyd sits out, guitar solo, as powerful drums up ante. Clayton develops a piano solo, kneading the keys with a bouncy feeling, and Lloyd's saxophone eventually returns with strong tone engaging the group in complex improvised interaction. The group comes out in a ballad configuration for "Requiem," with soft guitar, spare piano and percussion, the leader sounding very good at this tempo playing longing and emotional ballad saxophone. Guitar and rhythm keep the mood while presenting their own spin, Lage's guitar solo adds a few flashy bits, then leading to abstract an piano section and deft bass solo before the band reconvenes for a mild and gentle send-off. "La Llorona" has emotionally resonant piano, sounding vaguely classical, with the guitar adding texture, finally drums and saxophone coming in quite late into the performance. Long soft tones of saxophone finally enter, developing a dramatic cinematic widescreen quality to the whole track. The final track of the standard version of this album is "Part 5, Ruminations" which begins with Lloyd's subtle breathy saxophone along side light complex rhythm making an interesting setting. Skittish piano and percussion percolate as Lloyd paints the edges of the improvisation in a delicate and indirect manner. He moves to center stage with a well articulated solo backed by strong drums and waves of piano and guitar. Choppy swells of electric guitar and cymbals keep the performance moving briskly in a steep duo conversation. Piano probes the open space, building a gently progressive section. Harland's drum solo is a kinetic and exciting feature that is played all over the kit in opposition to the often quiet and restrained music if this album. Lloyd re-enters to calm things down, weaving quiet slow horn playing over undulating rhythms, leading to a respectful finish. This was a very solid album, Charles Lloyd has a unique approach to music and improvisation, and the musicians he has playing with him are also given plenty of freedom to express themselves which keeps the playing fresh and natural. 8: Kindred Spirits (Live from The Lobero) - amazon.com

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