Which Way Is East documents a simply magical recording between two lifelong musicians and friends: saxophonist Charles Lloyd and drummer Billy Higgins. The recording is significant for a number of reasons. Besides the musical affinity the two musicians shared, a spiritual bond also permeated their music. Having collaborated many years on numerous projects their recent efforts on ECM with Voice In The Night, The Water is Wide, and Hyperion With Higgins, the newly released Which Way Is East would be their final project together, as Billy Higgins died shortly after its recording in 2001. The recording serves as a poignant and reverent musical memorial.
Higgins was a dynamic and respected drummer who brought percussive verve to the music of greats such as Thelonious Monk, Ornette Coleman, Sonny, Rollins, John Coltrane, and countless others. His aforementioned efforts with Lloyd led to the weeklong recording at Lloyd's Santa Barbara home and features the two musicians on their primary instruments as well as surprises such as Lloyd's rare performances on alto saxophone and piano, or Higgins' singing and guitar performances.
The two CD recording features an expansive eight-suite movement of thirty individual pieces with a mix of duet and solo performances. The styles span global, spiritual, and cultural boundaries and show the symbiotic kinship the musicians shared. Lloyd is a consummate musician and his horn and flute performances are a testament to his longevity. Higgins' colorful and dynamic pulsations spawn a rainbow of percussion. The musicians seem to breathe in unison as each performance is filled with joy, life, and fluidness.
The performances use diverse arrangements of not only horn and drums conversations but also include flutes, piano, and exotic instruments such as Lloyd on Tibetan oboe, and Higgins on Senegalese and Guinean hand drums. From the tribal voices of the opening suite, "What Is Man," which explores primitive sounds and modern jazz, to the African/Latin sentiments of "Light of Love" and "Surrender," the music is a wondrous journey on many levels.
Track Listing: 1.What Is Man: The Forest 2. What Is Man: Being and Becoming
3.What Is Man: Civilization 4.What Is Man: Sea of Tranquility
5.Divans: Prayer, Sanctuary 6.Divans: Supreme Love Dance
7.Divans: A Wild and Holy Band 8.Salaam: Oh, Karim
9.Salaam: Akhi 10.Salaam: Ya, Karim 11. Salaam: Tagi
12.All This Is That: Hanuman's Dance 13.All This Is That: Sky Valley
14.All This Is That: Blues Tinge 15.All This Is That: Atman Alone Abides
16.Desire: Wild Orchids Bloom 17.Desire: Advaita 18.Desire: Chomolungma
19.Devotion: Sally Sunflower Whitecloud 20. Devotion: My Lord, My Lord
21.Devotion: Windy Mountain 22.Devotion: Through Fields and Underground
23.Light of Love: Mi Corazon 24. Light of Love: Beloved, Chimes at Midnight
25. Light of Love: Take a Chance 26. Surrender: Perfume of the Desert
27. Surrender: Benares 28. Surrender: Amor 29. Surrender: Forever Dance
30. Surrender: Bis
Personnel: Charles Lloyd - tenor/alto saxohopnes, bass, alto/C Flutes, pinao, taragato,
Tibetan oboe, percussion, maracas, voice;
Billy Higgins - drums, percussion, guitar, guimbi, Syrian "One String", Sengalese and Guinean hand drums, Indian hand drum, Juno's wood box, voice
I love jazz because it's sophisticated, international, atmospheric yet free, cool and warm.
I was first exposed to jazz through the sultry voice and flawless swing of my mother.
I met Mark Murphy, David Linx, Kurt Elling, and Youn Sun Nah.
The best show I ever attended was Youn Sun Nah in Paris.
The first jazz record I bought was Native Dancer by Wayne Shorter and Milton Nascimento
My advice to new listeners: open your mind and your ears, forget about structure, feel the textures.
Go see live music and keep buying CDs!