Charles Lloyd Quartet: Rabo de Nube (2008)
A sense of playfulness is often apparent here, a willingness to reconfigure a tune suddenly on a moment's inspiration. While Lloyd sometimes begins a tune alone, presenting naked melody, Moran is often the architect of change, mutating structures and approaches on the extended Lloyd themes like "Prometheus" and "Sweet Georgia Bright." The band's energy is clearly an inspiration for Lloyd, now 70, whose lyrical flights seem to put him in touch with his sources, both musical and spiritual. He and Moran banter playfully on "La Colline de Monk," with Moran wandering in and out of time for some fittingly fractured stride piano. "Booker's Garden," a tribute to Lloyd's Memphis colleague Booker Little, occasions some fittingly beautiful alto flute work from Lloyd, while "Ramanujan" summons up the spirits of Indian music and spirituality with the dark timbre of Lloyd's tarogato and Harland's polyrhythmic invention.
There's a remarkable consistency here for a band so willing to take chances, but the finest moments come on "Migration of Spirit," an ethereal modal meditation in which Lloyd seems to be channeling middle-period John Coltrane (circa 1963) in his fluid scalar runs. Lloyd's tenor sound, very close to the metallic shimmer of Coltrane with a leavening breathiness that suggests Stan Getz, may be as beautiful a sound as anyone has ever coaxed from a tenor saxophone. That exalted lyricism flowers again in the title track, a song by Cuban composer Silvio Rodriguez.
Track Listing: Prometheus; Migration of Spirit; Booker's Garden; Ramanujan/La Colline de Monk; Sweet Georgia Bright; Rabo de Nube.
Personnel: Charles Lloyd: tenor saxophone: alto flute: tarogato; Jason Moran: piano; Reuben Rogers: bass; Eric Harland: drums: percussion.
Record Label: ECM Records
Style: Modern Jazz