A stunning recording and another welcome addition to the discography of each of the players.
Blue Note: 00602445266494
Charles Lloyd: tenor saxophone, alto flute; Bill Frisell: guitar; Thomas Morgan: bass
Recorded December 2018 by Adam Camardella at Elizabeth Huth Coates Chapel, San Antonio, Texas
From his early years with Chico Hamilton, Gabor Szabo, or Cannonball Adderley, through his recordings with his classic quartet (de Johnette, Jarrett, McBee) during the 1960s, it looked as if Lloyd would play a huge role in shaping the development of jazz. His switch to playing and touring with The Beach Boys is probably going to wait for his autobiography to fully get to the bottom of.
But from his time with ECM over the 1990s and more recent releases on Blue Note, we are benefitting from a player in his creative prime. Even in his mid 80s, he is recording music that pushes his improvisational skill and hone his talent for melody.
On this, the first of a set of trio recordings, he has chosen a setting which feels hugely challenging. Frisell and Morgan have built a musical language that is almost telepathic in the way the duo shape their tunes. Entering into this pairing carries with it a bundle of risks, not only of disrupting the musical style of the duo but also of misinterpreting their telepathic communication and introducing ‘wrong’ sounds.
While each of the three players are too experienced and talented to let this happen, it is still a very pleasant surprise to hear how effortlessly the three voices blend on the tracks here. Frisell and Lloyd have, of course, released the wonderful ‘Tone Poem’ in The Marvels in 2021. But it is testament to Lloyd’s delicious and infectious musicality that there is so seamless a blend between the duo and the saxophone and flute.
Each of the songs represents that rarest of beasts in jazz: a piece that sounds as if it has been written especially for a single instrument, but where the instrument in question is each one in the trio: such is the way in which each player takes the tune, the rhythm and the feel of each piece and imbues with their own stamp.
This is not, of course, to say that there is a free-for-all wrestle for centre stage. Rather, the three players take such pleasure in each other’s company that the music simply flows effortlessly. A stunning recording and another welcome addition to the discography of each of the players.
Reviewed by Chris Baber