Charles Lloyd, the saxophonist and bandleader, is a musical seeker. His singular sound on alto and tenor is rich in wisdom, and at 84, the NEA Jazz Master never seems to exhaust a sense of wonder.
“All my life I have been searching for the note that has such perfect resonance with the universe that the creator takes the carrot he has been dangling in front of me for decades, and sets it down and says, ‘Yes, Charles — now can you put your horn down and go back into the forest,’ ” Lloyd wrote me via email.
Lloyd will bring his Ocean Trio, with pianist Gerald Clayton and guitarist Anthony Wilson, to the MCA Denver at the Holiday Theater on Tuesday, Nov. 8.
This trio is one of three Lloyd-led projects releasing albums on the Blue Note label in 2022. In some ways, the group visiting Denver is the most contemplative: Lloyd projects gentle lines on saxophone and flute that warmly approach the open-minded listener. On the “Ocean” album, his composition “Jaramillo Blues” is structurally reminiscent of Miles Davis’ classic “All Blues,” and the trio discovers new life within that vibe. Meanwhile, the playful “Hagar of the Intuits” comes alive within a Thelonious Monk-like sensibility. “Ocean” is another deeply felt Lloyd recording, like so many since he began releasing music under his own name in the ‘60s.
As fine as Lloyd’s most recent run of albums has been, it’s his live performances where he best connects. He sees his communication with a concert audience as an opportunity to engage.
“When I was coming up in the world, it was filled with trials and tribulations — music was my consolation and inspiration. I am sorry to say, the world is still filled with trials and tribulations and I hope that I can provide some solace and uplift to the listener,” he wrote.
Speaking of those “trials and tribulations,” Lloyd sees a responsibility in artists.
“We are reporters of the truth as we see it through our personal lens. The longer you live, the more experience you have. The report gets deeper while the other shore gets closer, and you want to convey the truth about eternity.”
As a participant in living jazz history, Lloyd has played alongside many of the greats since growing up in Memphis and making his way to California, where he has resided for decades. Lloyd appeared on stage with the likes of Howlin’ Wolf, Cannonball Adderley, Chico Hamilton and Gabor Szabo. Among the innovative living artists with whom he’s worked: Keith Jarrett, Jack DeJohnette, Jason Moran and even The Beach Boys, for a time in the ‘70s. I wondered if he stays in touch with many of them. His response was profoundly Charles Lloyd.
“In one way or another — all of them — sometimes it’s from the other shore.”
(Charles Lloyd Ocean Trio, MCA Denver at the Holiday Theater, 2644 W 32nd Ave., Tuesday, Nov. 8, 7 p.m. Tickets are $75 and available at mcadenver.org.)
Other shows of note in November: The Gabe Mervine Quartet appears Wednesdays at the Appaloosa Grill. … Saxophonist Tod Dickow performs with Charged Particles, featuring trumpeter Randy Brecker, at Dazzle Nov. 11-12. … Victor Wooten plays Cervantes’ Masterpiece Ballroom on Nov. 19 and the Boulder Theater Nov. 20. … and Keyboardist Tenia Nelson and her trio play at Denver’s Nocturne on Nov. 23.
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