Charles Lloyd CD review [ECM]

Music Reviews
Charles Lloyd CD review [ECM]
Oct 15, 2002, 20:54

CHARLES LLOYD Lift Every Voice 2xCD

The first songs on vet tenor saxophonist Charles Lloyd's recent double CD are a far cry from what might be expected of a jazz musician who played on bills with Cream and The Grateful Dead in the 60s and ran in the same circles as Roger McGuinn and Bob Dylan. “Hymn to the Mother” a drawn out meditation featuring somber solos from Lloyd and ECM guitar stalwart John Abercrombie, and the pop ballad “You Are So Beautiful” are both gentle pieces that are played with appreciable delicacy but lack the palpable warmth of Lloyd's take on the traditional “Amazing Grace.” Lift Every Voice is a varied, emotional collection of American spirituals, folk songs, and hymns that is, in part, a response to the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center (Lloyd was scheduled to open a multi-night stand at the Blue Note in Manhattan during September 2001). Two other standouts are “East Virginia, West Memphis” a nod to Lloyd's Southern roots that features a couple of knotty Abercrombie solos, and “I'm Afraid” a Duke Ellington penned ballad that contains a beautifully executed solo from Lloyd and an exquisite turn from Lloyd newcomer, pianist Geri Allen. Disc one ends with “Hafez, A Shattered Heart,” a barren solo selection from Lloyd that resounds long after the disc stops spinning. The program on disc two is weighted slightly more towards Lloyd's arrangements of traditional numbers but obvious elements of blues and soul are paid less heed. Here Geri Allen's cascading solos during Lloyd's “Nocturne” take hold, along with the swinging crosscurrents of “Wayfaring Stranger.” Lift Every Voice is neither bold nor innovative but it contains over two hours of emotional, varied music that will sound better every time that it is played. [ECM]

- Jeffrey L. Ouch

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