The Charles Lloyd Quartet Dream Weaver Atlantic **** RECOMMENDED
Love-In Atlantic *****
Journey Within Atlantic ****
The Warner 1000 Yen series reissue programme features no fewer than eight Charles Lloyd albums dating back to the first flush of Lloyd's fame in the 1960s. The reissues complement the much later ECM reissues after his return from a long reclusive period, reviewed in these pages earlier this year: http://www.marlbank.net/reviews/508-transcend-to-transform
But for some the Lloyd story begins and ends in the 1960s, and that's easy to understand why as Charles turned on the hippies to jazz almost single-handedly. While many of the selections here are available on compilations it’s the first time these particular 24-bit remastered versions as single albums have been released in the UK. Now 75 and still a big draw on the international concert hall and festival circuit (his latest album is reviewed here http://www.marlbank.net/reviews/344-the-remembering) all three of these Atlantic albums reviewed are a must as is Forest Flower.
Released in 1966 Dream Weaver is the most tantalising of the three albums in this sample batch and the only studio album. It also showcases Lloyd's flute-playing in its most orthodox incarnation of the three but is a portent of the future in the easily detectable way he subverts the norm and the form. Although dominated initially by ‘Autumn Leaves’, you might think a conventional choice, the performance is anything but straight: Jack DeJohnette chomps at the bit and Lloyd attacks the instrument egged on by Jarrett although it’s hard to make out piano at times even if later it’s funky and clear on the joyous ‘Sombrero Sam’. The two-part 'Dream Weaver' meditation is where it starts to get interesting and the Coltrane in Lloyd’s sound particularly on ‘Bird Flight’ and ‘Love Ship’ but also the Memphis bluesiness coming through as the album proceeds is a thrill.
Like Journey Within, Love-In was recorded in 1967 at the Fillmore auditorium in San Francisco and for me it is the pick of these three just in terms of sheer vitality and the increasing levels of experimentation. Ron McClure has a more prominent role than Cecil McBee had on Dream Weaver but none of these albums are about the bass really apart from in a perfunctory way. Jack DeJohnette is the ultimate free form drummer in the making pushing Lloyd to the limit while Lloyd’s flute playing is more telling on ‘Temple Bells’ and ‘Love-In’ is just electric, the flute controlling Lloyd rather than Lloyd controlling it, and Jarrett is lifted: the bluesiness palpable. For Jarrett fans ‘Love No 3’ is essential although his soprano saxophone playing on ‘Lonesome Child’ isn’t. The wilder side of Lloyd is easy to pick out here and again DeJohnette responds brilliantly. Listen to all three albums in one sitting if you can. You won’t regret it even for a minute. SG