155

Charles Lloyd: The Water Is Wide

David Adler By

Sign in to view read count
Not much could have gone wrong with this disc. Lloyd, one of jazz’s most distinctive tenor stylists, kept Billy Higgins and John Abercrombie on board from last year’s Voice In the Night, adding Brad Mehldau on piano and Larry Grenadier on bass. Abercrombie, however, only appears on four of the 12 tracks. Most of the session belongs to Mehldau, frankly. His duets with Lloyd on "Ballade and Allegro" and "The Monk and the Mermaid" feature some of his most sensitive work on record. Lloyd brings out contemplative qualities in this pianist that we haven’t quite heard before. Let’s not forget, though: One of Mehldau’s albums was titled Songs. Although he turned a lot of heads early on with his chops, he has distinguished himself as a masterful interpreter of melodies. He was therefore a perfect choice for this record, which could almost have been titled, "Charles Lloyd plays ballads."

Lloyd begins with a straightforward, elegant reading of "Georgia." Clearly, he’s not interested in striking hip poses. He goes on to lead his ensemble through two lesser-known Ellington pieces, "Black Butterfly" and "Heaven"; Strayhorn’s "Lotus Blossom"; two original ballads, "Figure In Blue" and "Lady Day"; and Cecil McBee’s "Song of Her," a throwback to Lloyd’s 1968 classic Forest Flower. It’s all there: Lloyd’s unique, glissando-laden phraseology, Mehldau’s harmonic nuances, unerring rhythmic support from Grenadier and the incredible Billy Higgins, and at times, pointed and eloquent guitarism from Abercrombie.

But the session ascends to another level entirely with the inclusion of two spirituals, "The Water Is Wide" and "There Is a Balm in Gilead." The latter features just Lloyd and Higgins, old friends, setting the melody starkly against a hypnotic drum chant. In addition, Lloyd’s closing "Prayer," written for Higgins during the time of his life-threatening illness back in 1996, features just the composer, Abercrombie, and guest bassist Darek Oles. (Oddly, the ECM press release is the only place where one will find Oles credited.) These tracks resonate with personal meaning and profundity. Without them, this would have been a solid ballads album. With them, it is something truly special.

| Record Label: ECM Records | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Shop

More Articles

Read Acceptance CD/LP/Track Review Acceptance
by Tyran Grillo
Published: February 26, 2017
Read The Wild CD/LP/Track Review The Wild
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 26, 2017
Read This Is Nate Najar CD/LP/Track Review This Is Nate Najar
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 26, 2017
Read Joy Comes Back CD/LP/Track Review Joy Comes Back
by James Nadal
Published: February 26, 2017
Read Apocalypse CD/LP/Track Review Apocalypse
by Julian Derry
Published: February 26, 2017
Read The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door CD/LP/Track Review The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 25, 2017
Read "Dare to Be" CD/LP/Track Review Dare to Be
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: August 8, 2016
Read "Out Of The Blue" CD/LP/Track Review Out Of The Blue
by Mark Sullivan
Published: October 15, 2016
Read "When You Wish Upon a Star" CD/LP/Track Review When You Wish Upon a Star
by Ian Patterson
Published: April 19, 2016
Read "Fake It Until You Make It" CD/LP/Track Review Fake It Until You Make It
by Jack Bowers
Published: November 17, 2016
Read "Supernovae" CD/LP/Track Review Supernovae
by Karl Ackermann
Published: December 14, 2016
Read "Amiira" CD/LP/Track Review Amiira
by John Eyles
Published: June 23, 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!