Charles Lloyd: Forest Flower

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Recorded live at the Monterey Jazz Festival in 1966, Forest Flower was the jazz soundtrack of the Flower Power movement. Always accessible and majestic, the Charles Lloyd Quartet was recorded here at the peak of its powers. The title track, "Forest Flower," actually is split into two parts, "Sunrise" and "Sunset," which merge together seamlessly to form a single piece of astonishing unity, with Charles Lloyd, Keith Jarrett, Cecil McBee, and Jack DeJonette playing beyond the point of empathy. There is such sheer beauty and lyricism in the music that 30 years later it still gives goose bumps. It is almost impossible to be unmoved by "Forest Flower—Sunset," particularly when Keith Jarrett reaches inside the piano to pound out extraordinary sounds.

The music, like the band itself, is so fresh and innovative that it caused a mighty stir, eventually reaching Miles Davis himself. Miles picked up on Lloyd's sound and energy, ultimately recruiting DeJohnette and Jarrett, and moving forward to launch the musical revolution known as Bitches Brew. But before all of these radical changes, there was Lloyd, who deserves credit for dramatically expanding the audience for "jazz" to include the hordes of acid-dropping, long-haired children of the 60s. Lloyd built up a new market for jazz artists, inadvertently paving the way for the commercial success of fusion. There are unmistakable elements of rock in the rhythms of DeJohnette and Jarrett, particularly on "Sombrero Sam," but this is not fusion.

Lloyd plays the tenor with a heavy dose of Trane, but never in a way that sounds derivative. Still, it is in his flute playing, as evidenced on "Sombrero Sam," where Lloyd really shines in his individual brilliance. This album captures the spirit of the 60s without sounding the least bit dated. Check it out!

Tracks:

1. Forest Flower—Sunrise

2. Forest Flower—Sunset

3. Sorcery

4. Song of Her

5. East of the Sun

6. Sombrero Sam

7. Voice in the Night

8. Pre-Dawn

9. Forest Flower '69

Players:

Charles Lloyd: Tenor Sax, Flute

Keith Jarrett: Piano

Cecil McBee: Bass

Ron McClure: Bass

Jack DeJohnette: Drums


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This review first appeared at MustHear.com .


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