When it comes to saxophonist Charles Lloyd, you always know that with every new release you will marvel at his melodic and serene playing, his spiritual vision, and his relaxed and flexible manner of leading his ensemble. With his new quartetfeaturing pianist Geri Allen, who collaborated with Lloyd on Lift Every Voice
(ECM, 2002), bassist Bob Hurst, and young and imaginative drummer Eric Harland, Lloyd again delivers a beautiful and mature statement.
Jumping the Creek offers a mix of a popular covers, one standard, and inspirational compositions that present Lloyd's originality as a player and a composer, but also as one who has absorbed and personalized the conceptions of other great sax players. As on his last release, the posthumous tribute to late drummer and lifelong musical partner Billy Higgins, Which Way Is East (ECM, 2004), Lloyd is still fascinated with the possibilities of intimate and open-ended dialogs with his band mates, especially Harland.
Lloyd employs the quartet on the the three long tracks, where he aims to seize more power, from a long and bleak reading of Jacques Brel's chanson "Ne Me Quitte Pas," which culminates with a passionate and powerful tenor solo; to the gentle "Georgia Brown Suite," where each member of the quartet is featured as a soloist; to the final track, "Song of the Inuit."
But on the other seven tracks Lloyd takes apart the ensemble and opts for close encounters with his fellow players. On "Ken Matta Ma Om (Bright Sun Upon You)" and on "Both Veils Must Go" he duets with Harland. On the Middle Eastern "The Sufi's Tears," where he uses the taragato, he duets with Hurst, who uses his bow to create a drone effect. Ellington's "Come Sunday" begins with Lloyd dueting with Allen, then leaving Allen to lead the trio. He revisits his elegiac "Angel Oak" from Lift Every Voice, this time as "Angel Oak Revisited," in a trio with Allen and Harland on cymbals. These dialogs may lack the telepathic communication with Lloyd's work with Higgins, but still they present very satisfying statements.
Personnel: Charles Lloyd- tenor and alto saxophones, taragato; Geri Allen- piano; Robert Hurst- double-bass, Eric Harland- Drums, Percussion