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Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose (The more things change, the more they stay the same) Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr
More than half a century has come and gone since Bob Dylan penned "Masters of War," yet the song's message remains as relevant as ever. On January 20, 2017the very day that Donald Trump took the Oath of Office and became the 45th President of the United States of Americasaxophonist Charles Lloyd joined a rapidly growing chorus of dissent:
Nations have been throwing rocks at each other for thousands of years. We go through spells of light and darkness. In my lifetime I have witnessed periods of peace, protest, and uprising, only to be repeated by peace, protest and more uprising. The fact that Bob Dylan's "Masters of War" was written in the early 1960s and not during the last decade, makes it timeless and timely. It breaks my heart to think that there are current generations of young people all over the world who are growing up without knowing of peace in their lives. The words Dylan wrote are a laser beam on humanity. This line, in particular, has stuck with me for over five decades:
"Let me ask you one question Is your money that good Will it buy you forgiveness Do you think that it could I think you will find When your death takes its toll All the money you made Will never buy back your soul"
The world is a dog's curly tailno matter how many times we straighten it out, it keeps curling back. As artists we aspire to console, uplift and inspire. To unite us through sound across boundaries and borders and dissolve lines of demarcation that separate. The beautiful thing is that as human beings, even under the most adverse conditions, we are capable of kindness, compassion and love. Vision and hope. All life is one. Who knows, maybe one day we'll succeed. We go forward.
Those well-chosen words from Lloyd accompanied the release of a rendition of the aforementioned Dylan classic, recorded live at Santa Barbara's Lobero Theatre on November 28, 2016. It serves as an impactful piece of protest music, with modern folk rock icon Lucinda Williams fronting the band with her controlled yet impassioned delivery of the lyrics. Lloyd's horn spirals through the air with intensity, Bill Frisell's guitar and Greg Leisz's pedal steel guitar irradiate the meaning of the song with their ominous tidings, and the rhythm combination of drummer Eric Harland and bassist Ruben Rogers serves as ballast in more ways than one. It's a stormy and purposeful performance that deserves to be spread far and wide. Charles Lloyd's saxophone and Lucinda Williams' voice are blowin' in the wind, so listen closely to what they say.
Track Listing: Masters Of War.
Personnel: Charles Lloyd: tenor
saxophone; Lucinda Williams:
vocals; Bill Frisell: guitar;
Greg Leisz: pedal steel
guitar; Reuben Rogers: bass;
Eric Harland drums.
As a songwriter and vocalist, I love jazz for the experience of being in the center of intense creativity. It is the most potent form of music for keeping the artist and the audience in the 'now. Being in the moment is essential for humans, and we need help in learning how to do that. As a songwriter, I need the depth of musicality that jazz voicings can give my stories. My songs seem light and whimsical, but the message is not.
I met my main collaborator, Mark Fitzgibbon, at one of his gigs. I needed to do my first original album, and his playing was masterful, robust, and beautiful. At the time, I didn't realize how suited we were as a team. We're onto our 4rth album together.
My advice to new listeners is to listen to a really clear and simple version of a song so you can then hear what the musicians are doing and enjoy their creativity and musicality. Also, you have to see jazz live to appreciate it fully. You'll never feel it the same way listening to a CD or online. You need the vibration to go through your body to really get it!
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