276

Charles Lloyd: Sangam

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
Charles Lloyd: Sangam Musicians at saxophonist Charles Lloyd's level of artistry rarely, if ever, have a bad night. Some times out are better than others, though, and based on this live recording, May 23, 2004 was clearly one of those evenings.

Which Way is East (ECM, 2004), a series of intimate duets Lloyd recorded with Billy Higgins a few short months before the drummer's death in 2001, demonstrated a shared musical understanding that transcended style and convention. As much a spiritual document as a musical one, it had moments that were built upon the spirit of saxophonist John Coltrane's latter-day duets with drummer Rashied Ali. But whereas Coltrane pursued unrelenting intensity, Lloyd has always sought a Zen-like peace and tranquility.

That's not to say that energy doesn't course through the 75 minutes of Sangam, which finds Lloyd teamed with Zakir Hussain—a tabla player who has bridged the gap between East and West better than most—and Eric Harland, who has emerged as one of the scene's most important new drummers. But the surprising thing about the recording is how complete it feels. "Tales of Rumi," last heard on Canto (ECM, 1997), is distilled to its barest thematic essential, with Hussain's tabla providing some semblance of a harmonic center while Harland's drums lithely dance around Lloyd's Eastern-tinged phrases.

Similarly, the drone-like nature of "Hymn to the Mother" has a different complexion than the version on Lift Every Voice (ECM, 2002), where guitarist John Abercrombie worked around pianist Geri Allen's modal underpinning. Here Lloyd takes it to a more positive place. And on the closing "Little Peace," Lloyd trades drummer Billy Hart's traditional swing from All My Relations (ECM, 1995) for more complex rhythmic interplay from Hussain and Harland.

Complex rhythms, in fact, define the general nature of how the two percussionists interact, but there's never a feeling of collision. Hussain's tabla may inherently possess the upper hand melodically, but Harland evokes equally melodic phrasing from his kit. On "Little Peace," following Lloyd's lithe flute solo, the two end up joyfully trading off with a spirit that's more cooperative than competitive.

Lloyd's solo piano piece, "Nataraj," is the album's most melancholic moment. Still, there's an underlying optimism that segues into Hussain's "Guman," where Harland takes over piano duty with a staggered yet elliptical single-note approach that feels somehow antithetical to Hussain's plaintive singing, before ultimately building to a gradually-escalating intensity underneath Lloyd's flute and Hussain's percussion.

Looking at Lloyd's body of work since he teamed with ECM in 1989, one can't help but feel that there's little beyond his reach. From the experimental Fish Out of Water (ECM, 1990) to the mainstream The Water is Wide (ECM, 2000) and last year's blending of the two on Jumping the Creek (ECM, 2005), the 70-year-old is truly at the top of his game. Sangam is continuing evidence that aging musicians can still evolve and deliver the best work of their lives.

Visit Universal Classics on the web.


Track Listing: Dancing on One Foot; Tales of Rumi; Sangam; Nataraj; Guman; Tender Warriors; Hymn to the Mother; Lady in the Harbor; Little Peace.

Personnel: Charles Lloyd: tenor and alto saxophones, tarogato, bass and alto flutes, piano, percussion; Zakir Hussain: tabla, voice, percussion; Eric Harland: drums, percussion, piano.

Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: ECM Records | Style: Modern Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read A Dark and Stormy Day CD/LP/Track Review A Dark and Stormy Day
by Dave Wayne
Published: March 1, 2017
Read Pocono Git-Down CD/LP/Track Review Pocono Git-Down
by Edward Blanco
Published: March 1, 2017
Read Rímur CD/LP/Track Review Rímur
by Henning Bolte
Published: March 1, 2017
Read Schönbrunn CD/LP/Track Review Schönbrunn
by Tyran Grillo
Published: March 1, 2017
Read Northern Adventures CD/LP/Track Review Northern Adventures
by Jack Bowers
Published: February 28, 2017
Read Collider CD/LP/Track Review Collider
by John Sharpe
Published: February 28, 2017
Read "Handel:  Complete Harpsichord Music" CD/LP/Track Review Handel: Complete Harpsichord Music
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: April 2, 2016
Read "Holding the Stage: Road Shows Vol. 4" CD/LP/Track Review Holding the Stage: Road Shows Vol. 4
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: November 19, 2016
Read "Enter the PlusTet" CD/LP/Track Review Enter the PlusTet
by Troy Collins
Published: October 23, 2016
Read "Triadic Episode" CD/LP/Track Review Triadic Episode
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: June 25, 2016
Read "Work Songs" CD/LP/Track Review Work Songs
by Mark F. Turner
Published: March 1, 2016
Read "Obnoxius" CD/LP/Track Review Obnoxius
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: November 20, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: Jazz Near You | GET IT  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!