Charley Lloyd & The Marvels – Tone Poem (2021)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/96 kHz | Time – 01:09:46 minutes | 1,42 GB | Genre: Jazz
Studio Master, Official Digital Download | Front Cover | © Blue Note Records
Third full-length album by Charles Lloyd & The Marvels, the genre-straddling quintet that features the master saxophonist with Bill Frisell on guitar, Greg Leisz on pedal steel guitar, Reuben Rogers on bass, and Eric Harland on drums. Following the band’s 2016 debut ‘I Long to See You’ and their 2018 collaboration with Lucinda Williams ‘Vanished Gardens’, the nine dynamic instrumental tracks here include new Lloyd originals along with pieces by Ornette Coleman, Thelonious Monk, Leonard Cohen, Gabor Szabo, and Bola de Nieve.
Jazz is often the mastery of the art of conversation and at 82, the always spiritual Charles Lloyd can speak in many different languages, on a nearly endless array of musical topics. Skilled at rock, world, mainstream jazz and Manfred Eicher’s ECM, Lloyd has found his conversational equals in his group, the Marvels. Based in an elastic rhythm section of drummer Eric Harland and bassist Reuben Rogers, this Lloyd-led colloquy where everyone is a leader and also a follower is completed by the powerhouse electric guitar duo of Bill Frisell and Greg Leisz, both of whom speak in their own highly idiomatic, extremely articulate string patois.
Tone Poem is a beautiful example of Lloyd’s always expansive musical vision, what he calls his “elixir.” It’s jazz with elements of Americana, rock and even country—a classic example of his easy, graceful melding of sounds and styles. Filled with Lloyd originals and covers of tunes by Ornette Coleman, Leonard Cohen and Thelonious Monk, Tone Poem evokes two other seminal spiritual/musical concepts: “soul,” not as in soul music exactly but as in the mood, the wisdom and grace that imbues everything here and “groove,” as in the Second Line rhythm flavor that energizes Coleman’s “Ramblin’” before morphing into a train-like chug over which the guitars talk around each other. Lloyd eventually eases in, adding his voice and some squawky tenor mangling that is a natural fit. Leonard Cohen’s ethereal “Anthem,” perfectly outlined by Frisell’s single note lines given resonance through reverb, are supported by Leisz’s legato background on pedal steel before Lloyd enters with his warm, searching tone and innate finesse. This is a bravado performance that shows the Marvels at their very best. As lovely as “Anthem,” is, it’s topped by a ten-minute cover of Ignacio Jacinto Villa Fernández’s “Ay Amor,” an enchanting triste melody that speaks of soul and hope and is here carried by elegance from Lloyd and both guitarists; it oozes romance tinged with the heartache inherent in the tune. Lloyd switches to alto flute for a bright, groovy, ’60s-influenced performance of his “Dismal Swamp,” where an insistent tempo provides a steady background around which Leisz wraps an impressionistic pedal steel solo. Produced by Lloyd and his wife, Dorothy Darr, and recorded by a trio of engineers in Spain and California, the sound here is peerless, capturing the instrumental interplay with detail and artistry. Tone Poem is the work of a creator, who as he says in the liner notes, remains inspired by the “fierceness of exploration.” © Robert Baird
4 Dismal Swamp
5 Tone Poem
6 Monk’s Mood
7 Ay Amor Live
8 Lady Gabor