Clive Lloyd quartet 311.
(photo credit: courtesy)
There is something about Charles Lloyd that exudes a larger-than-life feeling. At 72 years old, the saxophonist is one of the most durable jazz artists around, and his recorded output runs at a steady album every 18 months or so. His performances are often a leader tour de force. His last concert in Israel, at the 2004 Red Sea Jazz Festival in Eilat, had the audiences on their feet as Lloyd alternated between tenor saxophone, flute and all manner of percussion instruments – enjoying a jig or two in the process.
Lloyd’s upcoming concert here, Saturday at 9:30 p.m. at the ICC in Jerusalem as part of the Israel Festival, sees him team up with long-time colleague drummer-percussionist Eric Harland, pianist Jason Moran and bassist Reuben Rogers.
Besides his trademark airy saxophone arpeggios, Lloyd adopts a sort of
go-with-the-flow ethos. Thus, when asked what he and the quartet plan
to play here, the response was typically enigmatic. “It is often a
mystery until the first note comes out of my horn,” says Lloyd. “I
often think about it in advance, and then as I am walking onto the
stage and feel the vibration of the audience, I could end up playing
something entirely different. The exchange of energy that takes place
between the musicians and the audience is a very important factor in
any concert. And each time I have performed in Israel – I think it is
only twice – I have had the most amazing and sensitive audiences.”
Lloyd has been through quite a few lineups over the past 45 or so
years. In the 1960s he shared the bandstand with now stellar pianist
Keith Jarrett, with whom he recorded the smash hit album
in 1966, and there were more
successful synergies over the next couple of decades. Lloyd took a time
out from jazz during the 1980s but came back with a vengeance and
reeled off a string of acclaimed albums with the ECM label.
He and Harland have worked together for some years, both in the current
quartet and the intriguing Sangam trio, together with iconic Indian
tabla player Zakir Hussain. Lloyd says he’s delighted with both bands.
“This is my best quartet. We are family on and off the stage, so there
is always a feeling of support and simpatico – but musically for me, it
elevates and expands with each performance.”
He attributes his confluence with Harland to something akin to divine
intervention. “I met Eric shortly after Master [longtime Lloyd cohort
drummer Billy] Higgins passed away in 2001. I had a date at the Blue
Note in New York City, and Eric was playing with the midnight jam band.
I knew that Higgins had sent him. Higgins had said he ‘would always be
with me,’ so I recognized Eric immediately.”
Lloyd is also a firm believer in proffering music to the public without
preconceptions and just allowing the listener to get on with it. “We
should not underestimate the hearts and minds of the individual,” he
declares. “I think people are exposed to a deep experience, and our
music is an experience that transcends language barriers. Racial and
religious differences do not exist in the music. It is a very high form
of expression that can touch the heart directly.”
When it comes to cultural divides Lloyd is, perhaps, better qualified
than most to advocate openness and highlight the bonding values among
people from different backgrounds. “My ancestors were African, Irish,
Native American (Choctaw) and Mongolian. I am not so different from
many who were born in the South of the United States, perhaps with the
exception of the Mongolian part.
Different or no, expect to be taken on a trip at Lloyd’s show on Saturday night.
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