Jazz is a magical thing that exists, paradoxically, both in the unique existential moment of creation, never to happen again and on record, where crystallizing the ephemeral is attempted. Hearing jazz live can be a peak experience, but barring that, listening to a good recording of a great concert can come close, albeit vicariously.
Rabo de Nube captures a phenomenal show by the legendary, seventy-yer-old saxophonist/flutist Charles Lloyd, with his new quartet featuring pianist Jason Moran, bassist Reuben Rogers and drummer Eric Harland. This recording exudes everything that makes jazz such a vibrant art.
Lloyd's career dates back to the sixties, when he became extremely popular by mixing many musical genres into an ecstatic blend. Famously retiring from music at the height of his popularity he returned after meeting the young Michel Petrucciani and began a long relationship with ECM, with whom he made many albums. Throughout, Lloyd has never stood stillalways experimenting, but maintaining contact with his roots. As a result, every album always communicated the essence of his soul to the listener.
Rabo de Nube is Lloyd's first live quartet recording for ECM, although his previous trio album Sangam (ECM, 2006) was also live. Like Sangam, which featured a completely different groovewith Eric Harland on drums and Zakir Hussain on tablathis album too is energetic and filled with surprises. Eric Harland is the link between the two records and 'reads' Lloyd extremely well, so that, once again, his razor sharp instincts are put to good use. Rogers not only locks tight with Harland when necessary, but provides his own singular kick to keep things in a great groove.
Jason Moran, who had big shoes to fill, coming as he did after such pianists as Petrucciani, Keith Jarrett and Bobo Stenson, is on fire and burns with the same intensity as Lloyd. Moran has a uniquely individual voice and this acts as a perfect foil for Lloyd's own inventive one.
The result is music that is exuberant and rather uniquely unpredictable. It combines deep grooves from different parts of the world and grabs a hold of the listener, with thoughtful and intelligent music that immerses his or her in body in sheer ecstasy. Most tracks are between ten and fourteen minutes long and each becomes a musical excursion, exploring a surprising new vistas. We hear Lloyd's giant presence in every track as he selflessly provides something fresh for the band to play and the audience to enjoy.
Lloyd, at seventy, is still making music at a very high level, while breaking new ground with musicians half his age.
Rabo de Nube is a magnificent testament to this amazing artist.
Personnel: Charles Lloyd: tenor saxophone, alto flute, taragato; Jason Moran: piano; Reuben Rogers: double bass; Eric Harland: drums, percussion.