Last Friday night, March 15, Charles Lloyd celebrated his 75th birthday at the Temple of Dendur at The Met in NYC – a truly stunning and ethereal venue for a saxophonist whose name is synonymous with spirit and integrity. One of the first jazz artists to sell a million copies of an album (Forest Flower featuring Jack DeJohnette and Keith Jarrett), Lloyd’s career is filled with peak after peak, especially when it comes to his now long-standing band that ironically goes by the name of Charles Lloyd’s New Quartet. With Eric Harland on drums, the prolific Reuben Rogers on bass and jazz ambassador for a new generation Jason Moran on piano, year in and year out the group produces amazing music that is confident but unassuming, both cosmic and earthy, often at the same time.
The birthday concert featured the varied work from recent years, including an opening pair of songs with just Lloyd and Moran from the duo’s just released Hagar’s Song album, followed by the full quartet for a pair of extended explorations that made the most of the setting. Moran’s wife, vocalist Alicia Hall Moran, joined too, with an especially haunting Go Down Moses, before a full set’s worth of material featuring Maria Farantouri and Socratis Sinopoulos, music originally captured on 2011 live double disc Athens Concert. For our celebration of the master’s birthday, we’re also turning our attention to relatively recent years for a single track, nearly 40 minutes in length, Miss Jessie. It’s an engrossing performance full of the guts and grace and flow that marks Lloyd’s work – however, on this recording Geri Allen takes over piano duties for Moran, and absolutely shines. As always, enjoy!