Jazz Saxophonist Charles Lloyd Still Going Strong at Age 85
Some of you, upon reading the title of this blog post may be asking,“Who is Charles Lloyd ?” Some of you already know him, of course! He is a legendary jazz saxophonist (amongst other instruments) for decades now & also a prolific composer, and to put it simply, if you delve a little deeper into his concert reviews, critiques, and biography, you will see his musical acumen goes much further than your regular or standard fare jazz musician. He is a most astute and well-versed master of the melodic line, in genres such as free jazz, fusion, and even Americana. Charles is in his 80’s now, and is currently wrapping up his latest tour of the United States. If you haven’t heard him play, go right now to whatever streaming site you can get to and give him a listen! Download his recordings with the Charles Lloyd Quartet (or otherwise) and dig them.
With over 60 years in the music biz, this accomplished artist has compiled an astonishing list of wide-ranging material. He has played in a great variety of musical conglomerations, featuring an impressive array of players, including Keith Jarrett, Jack DeJohnette, Bill Frisell, Michel Petruccianni, Steve Gadd, and many others, & quite often featuring the best upcoming pianists of the day as well. Lloyd’s primary band since 2007 had been a quartet including pianist Jason Moran, acoustic bassist Reuben Rogers, and drummer Eric Harland., & his current tour features great pianist Gerry Clayton.
A big breakthrough & some may say ‘cross over’ album,’ 1967’s Forest Flower, got his quartet a prominent gig at the Monterey Jazz Festival back then, where he & his band achieved mainstream recognition and success which he so rightfully deserved. He has been carrying on ever since with an array of various musical projects that have been transcendent & thoroughly inspiring.
But exactly what makes Charles Lloyd, in our estimation, one of the most important musicians on Earth today? To put it succinctly, Lloyd is the genuine antithesis of the artificial mainstream figures in the Age of the Plastic, the commercial, and the substitute for quality. How many other (recording and touring) artists include a pre-gig prayer ritual, & how many other gigsters routinely meditate- both on the road & in their private lives, and don’t do it merely to affect some hip new-age image, but instead out of real spiritual and artistic depth of integrity?
High Praise Where Praise Belongs
And to give proper merit & praise where it is also due, Charles’ wife, Dorothy Darr (who is also an accomplished artist in her own right), acts as an inspiring muse & encourager of her husband’s humanistic mission in his music, art, & life-long career. She has qualities that many musicians & artists may probably only dream of having in a spouse. No doubt, this also helps to make the journey of an on-the-road touring musician a fair bit easier to achieve the proper balance & steadfastness needed for the right-on-the-money musicality. Mr. Lloyd now lives in a well-balanced & deserved haven in Southern California and is able to carry on in a healthy, integrated lifestyle that is not often had by many jazz musicians & which has nothing to do with any ostentatiousness but instead is the result of a continual hard-working persistence which gains perennial relevance in his field.
Neither does the man seek unearned fruits as a spotlight-seeking ego-type player, as although most of his albums bear his name as the leader, he is always especially glad to be part of an ensemble cast of players, as this man truly “plays well with others!” Mr. Lloyd’s recognition has also increased since initially coming out of retirement back in 1981 because of a little Frenchman who also happened to be a hell of a good jazz pianist-even at age eighteen, mind you! One day, a little man with a massive sound came knocking upon Charles’ door, saying, “Hey, please give me a listen!” & who succeeded in captivating the older emeritus player out of his hiatus from the business, & back again onto the world stages.
This “little man with the big sound” was Michel Petrucciani, whom our own little company, ‘Golden Flower Network’ is currently putting the finishing touches on a Film Scenario about. It’s a musical Bio Feature Film project, and it may also hopefully serve as a further inspiration to many of the physically challenged out there who also have artistic talent to carry on with their dreams in like fashion. (The Charles Lloyd character’s role in the Petrucciani Bio project would also play a fairly prominent for the first portion of the film, for now tentatively entitled “BITE!”, after one of Petrucciani’s well-known signature tunes).
No Signs of Slowing Down
At eighty-five years old, Charles Lloyd shows no signs of slowing down. His tour calendar is full. His output is astonishing for a player of any age, and as Charles Donelan, the arts columnist for the Santa Barbara Independent, so aptly put it back in 2021, “Charles Lloyd, an international treasure, continues his journey as the greatest living exponent of the broad musical genre initially associated with the classic John Coltrane quartet of the Live at the Village Vanguard era. It’s a rich vein that holds endless possibilities for players of this caliber”.