WORKS: All My Relations
PERFORMER: Lloyd (ts, f, Chinese oboe); Bobo Stenson (p); Anders Jormin (b); Billy Hart (d)
CATALOGUE NO: 527 344-2 DDD
Since his return to jazz recording in the early 1980s, Charles Lloyd has made a series of ECM albums with predominantly Scandinavian rhythm sections highly attuned to his brand of mystical, contemplative lyricism. Those who have complained about what they see as the soft-centred lushness of these efforts might be more convinced by this album, which leavens Lloyd’s meditative side with a number of bustling, almost querulous performances and thus covers a much wider emotional range than either Notes from Big Sur or The Call.
There is a beautifully controlled, moody flute piece, and an intriguing outing on Chinese oboe, but the album’s centrepiece is ‘Cape to Cairo Suite’, where Lloyd demonstrates that he is unequalled as a purveyor of broodingly majestic, anthemic tenor playing imbued with an almost Coltrane-like spirituality. Long-standing partners Stenson and Jormin perform impeccably; Billy Hart may be a mite over-assertive for some tastes, especially on cymbals, but he certainly brings a lively touch to the proceedings, ensuring that this is Lloyd’s most balanced album of the 1990s. Chris Parker