The Jazzcat

Charles Lloyd at the Lobero Theater in Santa Barbara

by on Jun.29, 2008, under News

“I took a trip on a train and I thought about…” the music of Charles Lloyd. I missed his last visit to Los Angeles and was not going to let him slip through the West again without checking out the performance. Not often have I taken the train from Los Angeles to Santa Barbara but, if was a peaceful journey with great music at the end of the rainbow.

Each year of life on the planet is a celebration and Charles was celebrating 70 of them. He walks out on stage with his hands in the praise position which characterized his spirit as peaceful, loving, kind and respectful not only of others but also for mother earth and all of its inhabitants.

This is Charles’ house in many ways, the first of which is how he turns the Lobero into his living room. The second is the simple fact that this is where Charles and artist, filmmaker wife Dorothy Darr have planted their roots. Charles just got back from off the road and only touched base at the house for about 30 minutes before he was headed to this sanctuary fill with receiving and open ear practitioners.

The band is a jazz lovers dream because any sight or sound of these cats is like the seal of approval on creative jazz music. Eric Harland is one of a hand full of drummers that connect with the universe and let the elements of sound at a moments notice play him and he paints a percussive canvas that is out of this world. Reuben Rogers, together with his bass, speak the voice of a narrator as stories, scenes, moods and swings are all depicted with non-verbal soul and uncanny rhythm. Jason Moran is the newest member of this group is an intelligent piano mathematician whose thoughts work on the summation of exponential possibilities in, around, on top of, behind and inside the equation of notes. Eric had approached Charles and said that Jason was interested in playing with the band and also mentioned to him that, “Jason understands”! That understanding that Eric speaks of exists on a plateau of comprehension entrenched with spiritual and musical awareness passed down through the vortex of the elders. Not a secret society, just information that can only be accessed through time, passion, dedication and an desire to take the music beyond the realms of original thought and deep into the unknown waters of complexity through simplicity!

Charles has it made because he chose the cats that synchronize in a stratosphere where the music, the spirits and the minds work as one to produce and reproduce the beauty and splendor of natural sound. After Charles takes his solo, you can see his enamored smile as he nods, acknowledges, listens and feels his trio engage the energy of peaceful happiness. There is no madness in the tenor; only the summoning of spirits on high with love and respect for God’s universe and all of the music created tonight is to be a blessing for those of us here and an homage to divinity!

Like archaeologists, these cats dig at the music carefully surveying the area, dusting off the surface debris, analyzing the data and musically processing the theories, hypothesizes and previously unseen notes that the universe unveils. The layers are peeled off and the roots are now exposed to sunlight and like time lapsed photography, the natural evolution of growth, shape, form and exotic blossoming turns the stillness of space into one-of-a-kind orchids of sound.

The alto flute is quite exquisite and audibly, is just one of the many communication devices that Charles has at his disposal. One bar of music holds infinite imagination and Jason works that id to the inside of the outesphere! Eric is a percussion wizard! The amount of soul, rhythm and infinite thoughts of percussive splendor at times are unparalleled. He and Reuben work together in so many musical situations that even though the philosophy of the music changes, the understanding of the dance around the line is a natural, second nature phenomenon. I know that every night many of the same pieces of music are performed but the differences in their nightly interpretations continue to be forever pleasing. The intros to many of the pieces are Rembrandts in their own right. When a quartet of this type of cosmic magnitude collides, the result is color twisted beauty spinning in peaceful revolutions keeping us grounded and light in the music.

Dorothy is the creative inspirational soul who stands behind the mind of the musical philosopher to “help matriculate the elevation”! Her giant canvas' serve as artistic, asthetic visuals adding more colorful stimuli to the pallet of sight and sound. She and Charles invited the cats to their mountain top abode for a brief encounter with serenity before the gig. I am sure that the quiet surroundings allow mental expressions and advanced musical trigonometry to speak to one clearly and as an audience, we are privileged to bathe in those musical answers. This is the same mountaintop that Charles and Master Higgins engaged in a musical fellowship that ECM recorded and Dorothy was blessed enough to capture in her film documentary “Which Way is East”. Master Higgins will always be there!

The “Terogato” is a horn from an indigenous culture that Charles acquired while traveling and was actually not supposed to have. He was in awe of its sound and it drew him to the gentleman that was playing it. I think that this is an instrument that is not suppose to leave that country but somehow, it was physically delivered to Charles wrapped in a Hungarian flag and he delivered it to us through the intangibility of sound that is certainly Eastern but is a Western charmer!

If a picture paints a thousand words then a canvas of sound by this genius of the music creates an infinite paradox of wisdom, truth and knowledge in the music. Two incredible encores performances this evening. Charles joins Jason on the piano as they both sit on the bench and bang polar opposite eighty eights in melodic synchronicity; Reuben picks up his bow and Eric uses his voice to chant a deep resonating mantra as Charles takes the microphone. He is poetic and prophetic as the beauty and peace of prayers descend upon us, guide us, protect us, enlighten us and leave us open to receive. Experience!

LeRoy Downs

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