Beautiful and absorbing though most of them are, Charles Lloyd's discs on ECM, with whom the reed player has been recording for almost twenty years, have tended to overshadow the wonderful albums he made with the Charles Lloyd Quartet for Atlantic forty and more years ago.
With Atlantic, Lloyd notched up eight LPs recorded in the three years from 1966radical discs which reflected the youth zeitgeist like no other jazz outfitbefore the quartet imploded in the face of mutual suspicion and predatory rival bandleaders. That the music was instrumental and acousticwithout a Fender Rhodes or bass guitar in sightmade the achievement more remarkable.
In 1966, a graduate sideman and arranger for drummer Chico Hamilton and alto saxophonist Cannonball Adderley, Lloyd decided to form his own quartet, recruiting the young lions pianist Keith Jarrett and drummer Jack DeJohnette. Steered by manager/producer George Avakian, at whose instigation Lloyd had recorded his first headlining albums for Columbia in 1965, the group made an immediate connection with the emergent counterculture and its primarily rock-orientated constituency, performing in rock venues as frequently as they did in jazz clubs. With Cecil McBee on bass, they signed to Atlantic and released the debut album Dream Weaver (Atlantic, 1966).
Less widely celebrated than the totemic Forest Flower (Atlantic, 1966), Dream Weaver still sounds like a breath of fresh air, and all but one of its tracks are included on Atlantic's excellent two-disc collection, Dream Weaver -The Charles Lloyd Anthology. So too is much of Forest Flower. The collection proceeds chronologically and each of the other six albums in the group's Atlantic oeuvre are also dipped into, including a large slice of Love In (Atlantic, 1967), a lysergic performance recorded at the Fillmore Auditorium in San Francisco.
Dream Weaver -The Charles Lloyd Anthology is a well selected tour through the Charles Lloyd Quartet's discography. Without wishing to be churlish then, a small factual correction. The set is subtitled The Atlantic Years 1966-1969. In fact, all eight albums from which it is drawn were recorded 1966-1968, and originally released 1966-1971. The group existed briefly into 1969, with drummer Paul Motian replacing DeJohnette, but this line-up is not known to have recorded.
Finally, a missing link. On 23 and 24 July, 1966 the Charles Lloyd Quartet appeared at the Antibes Jazz Festival in southern France. Atlantic recorded the performances with the intention of releasing a live album, but somewhere along the line the tapes were mislaidpossibly as a result of the prioritising of Forest Flower, recorded at the Monterey Jazz Festival two months laterand they remain lost. Time please, Atlantic, for a forensic search of your vaults.
CD1: Autumn Sequence: Autumn Prelude, Autumn Leaves, Autumn Echo; Dream Weaver: Meditation, Dervish
Dance; Love Ship; Sombrero Sam; Forest Flower Sunrise; Forest Flower Sunset; Sorcery; Little Wahid's Day;
Wilpan's. CD2: Tribal Dance; Temple Bells; Love In; Memphis Dues Again/Island Blues; Journey Within;
Lonesome Child: Song, Dance; Love Song To A Baby; Voice In The Night.
Charles Lloyd: tenor saxophone, flute; Keith Jarret: piano, soprano saxophone (CD2#6); Cecil McBee: bass
(CD1#1 - 9); Ron McClure: bass (CD2#1 - 8); Jack DeJohnette: drums, percussion, shehnai (CD2#5).
In addition to writing and editing for All About Jazz, Chris is editor of the British style/culture/history magazine Jocks&Nerds and consultant Afrobeat historian for Google Arts & Culture and Partisan/Knitting Factory Records.