Collection: The Water is Wide: Charles Lloyd

COMPOSERS: Carmichael,Ellington/Strayhorn,Lloyd
LABELS: ECM
PERFORMER: Charles Lloyd (ts), Brad Mehldau (p), John Abercrombie (g), Larry Grenadier (b), Billy Higgins (d)
CATALOGUE NO: 549 043-2

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Tenorist Charles Lloyd is an important yet elusive figure in modern jazz. In the Sixties, he led a flamboyant jazz-rock group, later partnered with cerebral pianist Keith Jarrett, retreated from the scene into meditation (for 15 years), came back in 1982 with pianist Michel Petrucciani but then opted out again. Lloyd has returned to the limelight with ECM, refining a tender, blissed-out, small-group sound whose roots are in the blues.

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The tracklist here draws from disparate sources – there are four Lloyd originals, a standard (Hoagy Carmichael’s ‘Georgia’), some lesser known Ellington/Strayhorn tunes, a Celtic folksong and a spiritual. They hang together beautifully; each is concise, suspended in the silence that always seems to surround an ECM session. The group dynamics are perfect: Mehldau’s technique, sensitive and restrained, focuses on tone; Abercrombie’s solos are blue and gleaming; Grenadier and Higgins shade and illuminate with the lightest touch, often stepping out altogether. Lloyd leads with understated authority, his voice more rapturous than rhapsodical. Garry Booth