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Charles Lloyd Quartet incredible and profound
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Charles Lloyd Quartet incredible and profound

by E. Joyce Glasgow - SGN A&E Writer

The Charles Lloyd New Quartet
December 6
Town Hall


Legendary jazz saxophonist and flautist Charles Lloyd returned to Seattle on December 6 for an incredible concert at Town Hall with Jason Moran on piano, Reuben Rogers on bass, and Eric Harland on drums. This Earshot-sponsored event was one of the highlight jazz concerts of the year and a fitting, celebratory punctuation to bring 2009 to a close.

Charles Lloyd has played and recorded with some of the great musicians of our time, including Keith Jarrett, Jack DeJohnette, Cannonball Adderley, Zakir Hussain, Billy Higgins, Chico Hamilton, Cecil McBee, Herbie Hancock and Michel Petrucciani.

Now 71, Lloyd has been on a spiritual quest his whole life, both personally and through his music. He semi-retired temporarily from his musical career in the 1970s and spent his time teaching meditation. He has said, "For me, the purpose of life is to know God, and the struggle of spiritual life will go on as long as I have breath. The pursuit and the music are one." Another moving quote from Lloyd: "Music is a healing force. It has the ability to transcend boundaries, it can touch the heart directly, it can speak to a depth of the spirit where no words are needed. It is a most powerful form of communication and expression of beauty." The beauty of his spirit shines through his lyrical, graceful, reverent and sensitive playing. His connection to spirit was also reflected on the evening of his concert in the lovely touches of fresh white and red flowers on the stage.

Lloyd has chosen the perfect musicians to compliment his musical vision. All are accomplished, versatile and innovative in their approaches to their individual instruments. The four together produced so much musical excitement that I could barely stay in my seat, wishing instead to leap up and move to the infectious rhythms and beautiful spirit and sensuality of the music.

Lloyd started out the evening by telling us an interesting story of a Roma musician in Budapest, Hungary, who played a taragato, a folk variant of the clarinet, and had Lloyd rolling on the floor in its spell. Lloyd really wanted one to play, but as it was the national instrument of Hungary, none were let out of the country. Some time after, some Roma people came to his home and presented him with one. Lloyd played his red taragato in his concert, and it sounded like a cross between a clarinet and a more Middle Eastern or Indian instrument - kind of like a snake charmer's hypnotic horn. Lloyd picked up his tenor sax and spent the rest of the evening serenading the audience with his distinctive stream-of-consciousness horn playing. Strains of "Let My People Go" melted into pure improvisations by the four musicians.

Lloyd and the group moved from Eastern influenced music into abstract improvisations, then into sweet, dreamy melodies, and then into Caribbean-flavored, energetic, toe-tapping music. Drummer Eric Harland created complex and distinctive percussion landscapes as a strong foundation throughout the evening. Moran created many colors and moods on piano, and Rogers provided a deep, soulful, fluid undercurrent on bass. The audience was on their feet at the end of their long set, and brought the group back for several encores, including a profound recitation by Lloyd of poetic words he attributed to Sri Krishna about the renunciation of the material world and all its encumbrances. The quartet also played Lloyd's well-loved "Forest Flower" as an encore.

Lloyd is one-of-a-kind and a delightful human being. His music is transcendent. I really admire his commitment to finding and expressing himself in his highest purpose. In the meantime, we, the audience, have the privilege of finding great inspiration and spiritual connection through listening to the music of Charles Lloyd.

For more information on Charles Lloyd, visit www.charleslloyd.com.

Seattle's Earshot Jazz Festival will have the proud distinction of being presented with the ASCAP/Chamber Music America award for "Adventurous Programming" in January 2010 at the annual national CMA Conference in New York City.

The next Earshot event will be the annual concert of Duke Ellington's Sacred Music on December 26 at Town Hall, featuring the Seattle Repertory Jazz Orchestra, the Northwest Chamber Chorus, and vocalist Everett Greene. For more information on this concert and other upcoming Earshot events, visit www.earshotjazz.com.

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