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Charles Lloyd: Just Before Sunrise

Douglas Payne By

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After memorable time spent with Chico Hamilton and Cannonball Adderley's influential bands, reedman Charles Lloyd launched a solo career with several top-notch records on Columbia in 1964. But it wasn't until moving to Atlantic Records in 1966 and the formation of this defining quartet that the talented Coltrane disciple earned his own place in jazz - and a remarkable degree of fame too.

By this time, Lloyd's tone on tenor had become readily identifiable and his (still) too-rare flute work had a distinctive appeal all its own. However, the combination of Lloyd's interesting, often catchy originals with such a superlative group of interpreters — featuring the young Keith Jarrett on piano, Cecil McBee (and, later, Ron McClure) on bass and Jack DeJohnette on drums - seemed ideally suited to the tenor of the times. Lloyd's quartet consistently played to large, enthusiastic audiences at landmark events (at San Francisco's legendary Fillmore and behind the Iron Curtain in Cold War Russia) and completely won over young rock listeners while maintaining a remarkable degree of creative jazz integrity.

The quartet was heard on eight Atlantic albums recorded between 1966 and 1969 and, though all are quite worthwhile, most remain unavailable on CD (even though Atlantic issued only a portion of what this highly prolific group recorded at the time). Just Before Sunrise is an attempt to fill the gap by combining the original contents of the group's March 1966 debut, Dream Weaver, with a Fillmore performance from ten months later, Love In (whose encore resulted in another full LP, Journey Within ).

With the advantage of hindsight, it's not too hard to hear why Lloyd's quartet attained such success. Lloyd mixed engaging folk-like tunes ("Autumn Sequence," "Love-In," both featuring his lovely flute) with long, exploratory Trane-like modal workouts ("Dream Weaver," "Bird Flight," "Love Ship" and "Tribal Dance," all on tenor ). As the music alternates and the quartet interacts, it's difficult to resist the true collective sorcery on display here - whether coming from a rock or jazz perspective. Lloyd seasons the spell with his signature Memphis funk ("Sombrero Sam," "Is It Really The Same"), a winning pop cover ("Here, There and Everywhere") and a duly appropriate spotlight for Jarrett (the trio only "Sunday Morning"), whose early signature sound is often quite captivating.

Unfortunately, three unreleased titles from each of these two sessions on this two-disc set remain missing in action. But what is here is an outstanding, essential document of one of the period's most memorable groups.

Songs:Autumn Sequence: a. Autumn Prelude, b. Autumn Leaves, c. Autumn Echo; Dream Weaver: a. Meditation, b. Dervish Dance; Bird Flight; Love Ship; Sombrero Sam; Tribal Dance; Temple Bells; Is It Really The Same?; Here There And Everywhere; Love-In; Sunday Morining; Memphis Dues Again/Island Blues.

Players:Charles Lloyd: tenor sax, flute; Keith Jarrett: piano; Cecil McBee, Ron McClure: bass; Jack DeJohnette: drums.

Title: Just Before Sunrise | Year Released: 1999 | Record Label: 32 Records


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