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Charles Lloyd & The Marvels – I Long To See You

January 16, 2016

Yesterday I was getting ready to head down to the Electric Fetus to pick up a LP version of Bowie’s Blackstar and so I took a look at their web page to see the new releases. This release caught my eye, especially seeing guitarist Bill Frisell promently on the cover.  I read the profile (below) and immediately decided I had to have it.  From Electric Fetus:

Charles Lloyd & The Marvels release I Long To See You on January 15, the debut album of a band founded by esteemed saxophonist and composer Charles Lloyd, featuring Bill Frisell (guitar), Greg Leisz (pedal steel), Reuben Rogers (bass) and Eric Harland (drums). The album presents 10 tracks, including a beautiful interpretation of “You Are So Beautiful” with Norah Jones on vocals and “Strangest Dream” with Willie Nelson on vocals.

It is an absolutely charming release. With Frisell in the left channel and Leisz on the right creating an amazing stage for Lloyd on sax and flute.  It is folk jazz.  Lloyd has made a career of fusions and making adventurous jazz accessible to rock and roll ears without compromise his art.  He just makes great music whether it is his own compositions or covers.

The album opens with a cover of Dylan’s “Masters Of War” that captures Dylan’s anger and yet remains beautiful.

Next comes “Of Course, Of Course” the titular track from Lloyd’s 1965 album.  Here Lloyd plays the flute and revises the classic funky 60s soul jazz with a country twist.

“La Llorona” is a traditional Mexican folk song that The Marvels give a spaggatti western movie soundtrack feel.  It absolutely drips melancholy (one of my favorite musical moods).

“Shenandoah” is a traditional folk song that is the perfect cover for this band.  It is a simple folk tune, but Lloyd and the band make it absolutely regal.

Lloyd pulls out another one of his mid-60s catalog standards “Sombero Sam.”  This song is from 1966’s Dream Weaver.  The song has a nice surf music and Latin vibe.  Lloyd masterfully walks the razor’s edge between cool and kitch.

“All My Trials” is a folk song associated with the 60s protest movement. Lloyd turns it into a gorgeous jazz ballad spreading his gorgeous tone like cream cheese on a warm bagel.

“Last Night I Had The Strangest Dream” features Willie Nelson on vocals and guitar.  This is a protest movement standard in the spirit of Dylan’s “Blowing In The Wind ” and Lennon’s Imagine which it predates by 10 and 20 years respectively.  Nelson’s weary voice is perfect.

“Abide With Me” is a short hymn.

“You Are So Beatiful” is a song that J  made famous.  Evidently Lloyd has often used it as an encore piece and had often imagined Norah Jones’ voice gracing it.  Now a Blue Note labelmate he made it happen.  I fell in love with Norah Jones voice even before her debut album when she covered Roxy Music’s “More Than This” on a Charlie Hunter album.  Norah’s cameo, like Nelson’s is perfect.

The album closes with a new song: “Barche Lamsel.”  The band riffs on a single chord for sixteen and half minutes.  It is stunning in it simplicity and yet it quietly shreds.   The title refers to a Buhdist prayer for clearing away the obstacles from the path.

This is an absolutely gorgeous album.  Great players and great songs. The recording is pristine.  I first fell for sax and guitars on Metheny’s 80/81 – they go so well together – a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.  The album is entertaining, yet enlightening as it deals with protest and spirituality.  The intertwining of Frissell’s and Leisz’sguitars are a beautiful knot. Lloyds sax and flute are grand expressions of the man’s soul.  Lloyd’s regular rhythm section of Reuben Rogers (bass) and Eric Harland create a mighty foundation.  This blend with these songs is audio perfection.

2016 is starting out great for me on the music front – two Friday’s in a row that best of 2016 albums are released.

From → Music Reviews

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