London Jazz Festival Recollections Part 1 – Charles Lloyd, The Barbican

CharlesLloydI’ve been dipping in and out of a Charles Lloyd induced trance all week. The closing gig of London’s 10 day  multidimensional jazz takeover (festival hardly seems to do it justice) saw the newly endowed NEA Jazz Master weave his spell over a packed Barbican that had just been transfixed by Soundprints, the Dave Douglas/ Joe Lovano led quintet.  A double bill of these two bands  seemed like impossible riches, but I confess it’s the strange magic that Lloyd weaves that has had me re-entering the spell he cast. It was  a near continuous set of textures, melodies, insidious rhythms and occasionally, startlingly, spasms of loose driving swing.  The tenor sound, that seems to rise out of the stage like a vapour, is reedy, sometimes acerbic and can sound like an incantation, a quiet prayer-like chant, the most heart stopping gorgeous melody and then with a twitch of a knee or a nod of the head it gains weight and energy and bluesy inflections.  The extraordinary band swirl around the master, rustles and clicks from Eric Harland on drums, little rippling runs from Gerald Clayton on piano.  Harland was a marvel to watch. The transitions from absract floating textures to insistently grooving pulse just seemed to emerge, Joe Sanders‘ bass suddenly locking in just when the meditative vibe might have been too much to stay with. This project is called The Wild Man Suite and incorporates Greek and Hungarian musicians.  Whatever image that conjures up, rest assured: its a Charles Lloyd band. It was amazing how the Socratis Sinopoulos‘ lyra ( a lute like bowed instrument) and Miklos Lukacs‘ cimbalom (what looked like the strung frame of a piano laid flat and played with vibes mallets) blended with the Lloyd sound. The lyra sound was weirdly like Lloyd’s sax as it etched out haunting melodies. Lukacs provided some furious solos sounding like an edgy, prepared piano over a storm whipped up by Harland.  Wild it wasn’t. Intense; taking us beyond the moment; entrancing it was.



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