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The many fans of Charles Lloyd will revel in Jumping the Creek, one of the best since his "comeback" in the late '80s. Of the members of his new band, pianist Geri Allen has played the longest with the saxophonist (about five years). However, the group plays so well together that is easy to assume that they have been performing as a unit for some time. Consisting of duets and trios among various band members, Jumping the Creek continually shifts among styles, from meditative Indian and Middle Eastern tunes to down-home blues.
Lloyd's playing of the tarogato, an almost-soprano saxophone-sounding instrument invented in Hungary, continually evokes a mood of peace and tranquility. However, this is no New Age meditation recording. It is rich in lyricism and delicate beauty. Nowhere is this more clear than on the standout "Come Sunday." Originally recorded in '43 on Duke Ellington's Black, Brown and Beige and re-recorded in '58 with gospel legend Mahalia Jackson, the tune relates to perseverance in the face of racial injustice. Allen's less-is-more playing fits the leader's brooding, make-every-note style to a T.
Jumping the Creek is an evocative, transcendent album that's sure to be on many lists as one of the best jazz releases of 2005.
Track Listing: Ne Me Quitte Pas; Ken Katta Ma Om; Angel Oak Revisited; Canon Perdido; Jumping the
Creek; Sufi's Tears; Georgia Bright Suite; Come Sunday; Both Veils Must Go; Song of the
Personnel: Charles Lloyd: tenor, alto saxophone, tarogato; Geri Allen: piano; Robert Hurst: bass; Eric