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Charles Lloyd

Charles Lloyd is an NEA Jazz Master

The critical consensus is that Charles Lloyd has never sounded better. As he enters his 76th year, the depth of his expression reflects a lifetime of experience. Lloyd has a legendary history in the music world, and could certainly be in a position to slow down and rest on his laurels. But looking back has never been of great interest to this tender warrior; this seeker of beauty and truth. “Go forward,” is his motto, as he keeps shifting to a higher, well calibrated gear.

His concerts and recordings are events of pristine beauty and elegance, full of intensely felt emotion and passion that touches deep inside the heart. This is not entertainment, but the powerful uncorrupted expression of beauty through music. When music vibrates, the soul vibrates and touches the spirit within. "Mr. Lloyd has come up with a strange and beautiful distillation of the American experience, part abandoned and wild, part immensely controlled and sophisticated." —The New York Times.


Charles Lloyd was born in Memphis, Tennessee, on March 15, 1938. Like New Orleans, 400 miles to the south on the Mississippi, Memphis has a rich river culture and musical heritage saturated in blues, gospel and jazz. Lloyd's ancestry of African, Cherokee, Mongolian, and Irish reflects a similar rich culture. He was given his first saxophone at the age of 9, and was riveted to 1940's radio broadcasts by Charlie Parker, Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young, Billie Holiday and Duke Ellington. His early teachers included pianist Phineas Newborn and saxophonist Irvin Reason. His closest childhood friend was the great trumpeter Booker Little. As a teenager Lloyd played jazz with saxophonist George Coleman and was a sideman for blues greats Johnny Ace, Bobby Blue Bland, Howlin' Wolf and B.B. King.

Classical music also exerted a strong pull on the young Lloyd. In 1956 he left Memphis for Los Angeles to earn a degree in music at USC where he studied with Halsey Stevens, a foremost Bartók authority. While his days were spent in academia, Lloyd spent nights getting educated on the job in L.A.'s jazz clubs, playing with Ornette Coleman, Billy Higgins, Scott La Faro, Don Cherry, Charlie Haden, Eric Dolphy, Bobby Hutcherson and other leading west coast jazz artists. He also was a member of the Gerald Wilson big band.

In 1960 Lloyd was invited to become music director of Chico Hamilton's group when Dolphy left to join Charles Mingus's band. The Hungarian guitarist Gabor Szabo and bassist Albert "Sparky" Stinson soon joined Lloyd in the band. Hamilton's most memorable albums for Impulse Records, Passin’ Thru and Man from Two Worlds, featured music arranged and written almost entirely by Lloyd, and during this period of prolific composing he was also finding his unique voice as a saxophonist. A memorable collaboration took place between Lloyd and the Nigerian master drummer Babatunde Olatunji, with whom the saxophonist played when he wasn't on the road with Hamilton.

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“Charles Lloyd is an international treasure.” —Carlos Santana

“Follow the career of Charles Lloyd, and you see a map of great jazz across half a century. His shows, full of momentum and intuition, perfectly represent the idea that the best jazz needs to be experienced live.” —Ben Ratliff, The New York Times

“He's expansive in his musical discourse yet without a wasted note.” —Wall Street Journal

“Jazz improvisation as complex and far-reaching as the Lloyd quartet had to offer can be a daunting listening experience. … The listener is taken on a journey through gravity-less improvisational space. To the credit of Lloyd and his players, that journey was illuminated by one musical enlightenment after another.” —Los Angeles Times

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Primary Instrument

Saxophone

Location

Santa Barbara

Clinic/Workshop Information

Master classes

Susan Krebs
voice / vocals
Lena Bloch
saxophone
Richard Howell
saxophone
Rex Shepherd
guitar, electric
Rea Meir
woodwinds
CHYKE MARTINS
saxophone
Noam Shapira
saxophone
Pieces
band/orchestra

Photos

Album Discography

Recordings: As Leader | As Sideperson

Bells On Sand

Blue Note Records
2022

buy

Trios: Chapel

Blue Note Records
2022

buy

Tone Poem

Blue Note Records
2021

buy

8: Kindred Spirits...

Blue Note Records
2020

buy

Montreux Jazz...

TCB Music
2019

buy

Vanished Gardens

Blue Note Records
2018

buy

Videos

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