Charles Lloyd Quartet: Rabo de Nube

By: Dennis Cook

Late night talk
On a tenor
With the dead
And the shadows they cast

Voice of solitude
Voice of insomnia
Call of a night bird
Continuous prayer

This bit of verse penned specifically for this release by Library of Congress Poet Laureate Consultant Charles Simic captures some of the leaps and shining yet deliciously muted tones of the Charles Lloyd Quartet's extraordinary Rabo de Nube (ECM), which bursts with the crackle and immediacy of Lloyd's '60s work filtered through an engaged maturity that makes this one of the richest works in his catalog.

Jazz this pure is hard to come by in 2008. That's not to say this is bebop or fusion or any other simplistic genre header but Lloyd's slippery inventions are what primo jazz is all about - subtly breathtaking, palpably possessed, full of invention, never forcing shifts in mood and tempo, riding them like muscle moving under smooth skin. Recorded live in Basel, Rabo de Nube - the title taken from a Silvio Rodriquez composition meaning "tail of a cloud" that closes the set – finds Lloyd's cool tenor sax and bright flute joined by hard percussion, cloudbursts of piano and bass that moves like an anaconda around the trunk of this music. Jason Moran (piano), Eric Harland (drums), Reuben Rogers (upright bass) and Lloyd move telepathically, speaking to one another in a way that never telegraphs their next move or torpedoes any happy surprises.

These bold compositions embrace melody and welcome controlled chaos, limber in their use of space, movement and stillness. Even the solos, which can often be a little rote in jazz, pop with focused intensity. Their use of volume and dynamics makes this one of the most exciting quartets going today. Not too bad for a guy who celebrated his 70th birthday this past March. He sets the pace for these young lions. This is Lloyd's band and his hand is steady on the wheel at all times, seen most often in the powerful humility and judicious use of force that has marked his entire career. Why overplay when you can make each note count as well as Lloyd and his boys do?

Folks will be hard pressed to find a better semi-straight jazz album this year. The qualifier is offered because Lloyd has rarely adhered to convention in an orthodox way. His music, here and elsewhere, can summon the West Coast warmth of Chet Baker and Dave Brubeck but also a meditative, international bent that gives things a modal, rounded, impossible to pin down character. Like a brilliant film director, Lloyd has created his own world and Rabo de Nube is an awfully damn fine stretch of it.

JamBase | Inner Spheres
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[Published on: 5/21/08]

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lovemusicfood starstarstarstar Fri 5/23/2008 11:43PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Nice! Charles Lloyd's Album live at Monterey with Jack DeJohnette, Keith Jarrett, and Cecil McBee is one of the best jazz albums ever.


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