Film reviews

‘Love Longing Loss: At Home with Charles Lloyd During Isolation’

Love Longing Loss: At Home with Charles Lloyd During Isolation

(Available to watch until 11 June 2021 – link below)

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(Film documented by Dorothy Darr. 62 minutes. Film review by Sebastian Scotney)

Charles Lloyd. Photo by Dorothy Darr

“It’s like one song I am trying to sing all my life.” As Charles Lloyd says this, he covers his eyes. And then laughs.

The moment feels like a summation not just of the new hour-long documentary, Love Longing Loss, filmed at their home in Santa Barbara by his artist wife Dorothy Darr during lockdown, but also of Lloyd’s remarkable inner calm, his determined way of being as a musician, his utter devotion to the causes he believes in, and the way his music always seems to come from very deep.

The first music we hear in the film is a new tune, Sky Valley Doll. Lloyd doesn’t just sustain and float its long melodic line, he seems to be able to hold on to those notes as if they will go on forever. That thoughtful and meditative vibe continues through the movie. There are sequences where what we see are images related to America’s disturbed and disturbing racial history, but the sound determines the pace: these scenes are witnessed through the prism of Lloyd’s playing. From an opening sequence of the sea at Santa Barbara in California to a closing sequence of Dorothy Darr watering plants and then the couple embracing, Lloyd’s music is the linking thread. He plays alto and tenor saxophones, and also alto flute and tarogato.

Perhaps the trickiest aspect of a film such as this is that it needs to appeal both to people who know his music well – they will recognise the musician they know and love – but also to provide an appealing introduction to him for people who are less aware of him. It does both of these tasks well.

LINK: Love Longing Loss was commissioned by the Boulez Saal in Berlin and is available to watch on their website until 11 June 2021

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