Charles Lloyd/Maria Farantouri – Athens Concert
(ECM 276 7833. CD Review by Chris Parker)
‘A musical bridge between our two worlds’ is how saxophonist Charles Lloyd describes his collaboration with Greek singer Maria Farantouri, but – as with a number of similar ECM projects – the resulting music is so seamless, so natural-sounding, as to be almost sui generis. Lloyd first met Farantouri in 1992, subsequently inviting her to perform his song ‘Blow Wind’ (included in this two-CD concert recording) on stage with his band in Greece the following year.
She, in her turn, introduced Lloyd to her Greek repertoire, both traditional songs and contemporary material by the country’s composers, among them the man with whom she is most readily associated, Mikis
Theodorakis. At this Athens concert, recorded in June 2010 in the Theatre of Herodes Atticus at the foot of the Acropolis, they are joined by Lloyd’s regular band (pianist Jason Moran, bassist Reuben Rogers, drummer Eric Harland) and lyra player Socratis Sinopoulos, plus occasional contributions from pianist Takis Farazis, and the ensemble gels impressively in what Farantouri describes as the ‘outpouring topics of the Greek soul: departure, nostalgia, love and exile’.
Her rich, affecting voice blends beautifully with Lloyd’s trademark spiritual warble, but with Moran in
particular bringing an adventurous jazz sensibility to the mix, there is just enough grit in the musical oyster to produce a pearl of an album, melancholy, celebratory, hypnotic by turns, but always profoundly moving.
There is a promotional video