Charles Lloyd & the Marvels – Tone Poem
(Blue Word. CD assessment by John Bungey)
Charles Lloyd says he has loved lockdown – partially. This elder statesman of the saxophone has at all times relished isolation and solitude, and for a 12 months he’s averted journey and the departure lounge life. However, as he informed Downbeat, that has meant much less music-making and since his early teenagers taking part in has been central to his life. “I’ve at all times lived within the music as a result of the opposite stuff didn’t make sense to me,” is his poignant approach of placing it.
This tremendous set appears to have been recorded properly earlier than lockdown. Again in 2018 throughout an interview in Paris, a beaming Lloyd performed me the model of Ornette Coleman’s Peace that opens Tone Poem. In truth it’s the Coleman piece that follows, Ramblin’, that basically hits residence. Drummer Eric Harland begins up a dancing second-line rhythm, Reuben Rogers strums a chord on electrical bass whereas Greg Leisz conjures the whistle of a passing prepare from his pedal-steel. Excessive Lloyd’s tenor loops and curls – he’s by no means sounded so joyous or his band so funky. Invoice Frisell‘s uneven rhythm guitar is usually low within the combine right here; he strikes nearer to centre stage subsequent on Leonard Cohen’s track of hope for darkish occasions, Anthem. The bittersweet really feel is much like Frisell’s tackle Have a Little Religion 20 years in the past.
Tone Poem is Lloyd’s third set with this line-up. It’s principally covers – Thelonious Monk, the Hungarian Gabor Szabo additionally – and this time with no visitor vocalists. That might be a reduction to these lovers of jazz chanteuses who didn’t take to alt nation singer Lucinda Williams’s gritty renditions on Vanished Gardens (me, I had no drawback). The Marvels are literally the least jazz of any Lloyd line-up. There’s little of the questing experiment that, say, pianist Jason Moran introduced – or going again to a earlier century, Keith Jarrett. As a substitute, Frisell and Leisz embrace Americana, blues and, particularly, the nice and cozy tones and textures of nation rock. Essentially the most mellow moments include the Latin melody Ay Amor, a swoon of a tune that appears to have wafted in from Ipanema Seaside. The mastery of the taking part in – Frisell’s specifically – rescues it from kitsch. A bonus monitor brings extra prettiness, however this time over a agency backbeat, with a trustworthy studying of In My Room by the Seaside Boys, a band whom Lloyd frolicked with within the late Sixties.
However the grasp nonetheless likes to combine it up: the self-penned title monitor begins with an intricate, intense dialogue between saxophone and percussion. And for me he’s one of many few gamers who could make the flute a convincing jazz software (Anchorman’s obtained rather a lot to reply for). He’s at his greatest within the ten-minute Pied Piper dance of Girl Gabor – a jam-band exercise for jazzers.
The saxophonist doesn’t enterprise in the direction of the unknown with the Marvels as he has in previous lives, however this extra grounded model of Lloyd is one your jazz-sceptical pals can respect too. All these critics who put the Marvels albums of 2016 and 2018 of their best-of-year lists will, oh pricey, must repeat themselves once more – Tone Poem is a no-risk disc.
Tone Poem is launched on 12 March 2021