CD reviews

Charles Lloyd Quartet – Montreux Jazz Festival 1967 (Swiss Radio Days Jazz Series 46)

Charles Lloyd Quartet – Montreux Jazz Festival 1967 (Swiss Radio Days Jazz Series 46) (The Montreux Jazz Label TCB 02462. CD review by Peter Bacon) Maybe it shouldn’t be so striking, but, somehow, it always is: how distinctive and immediately identifiable is the sound of the great players of the past (and, in this case, the present as well)? That Charles Lloyd tenor saxophone tone we still hear today – those lucky enough heard it this summer at Ronnie Scott’s – with its edge of gruffness, and its deep centre of vulnerability could be the remarkable result of all those years of experience, of wisdom gained, of the wear and tear of the years of musical and spiritual searching… and, yes, I am sure the sound we hear from Lloyd today has all that in it. But what is even more remarkable, listening to this newly released 52-year-old concert recording, is that so much of that sound was existent then. The greats, it seems, emerge as nearly fully-formed as damn it! There are other examples here of greatness’s striking early signs. This was the band that featured two jazz superstars of the future: pianist Keith Jarrett and drummer Jack DeJohnette. They too sound substantially and distinctively like themselves. It was the band’s first appearance at the Montreux Jazz Festival for the very good reason that it was the first Montreux Jazz Festival. These two CDs reveal a performance of generosity and expansiveness. Everyone – Ron McClure is on bass – gets a chance to stretch out and a good number or risks are taken and successfully overcome. The energy leaps from the speakers. The programme is all Lloyd compositions – including Love Ship, Love Song To A Baby and Forest Flower – with one Jarrett (the opener, Days And Nights Waiting) and one from a former Lloyd bandmate, the Hungarian/American guitarist Gabor Szabo (Lady Gabor). Lloyd spends a fair amount of the concert on flute, Jarrett’s solo piano concerts are foreshadowed in some of his extended, wide-ranging solos, and DeJohnette’s snare and brushes work as well as his cymbal mastery are fully explored. The recording sound is surprisingly good and the right amount of noises-off gives an appropriate concert ambience. Recommended.

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