Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music


LLOYD, Charles

(b 15 March 1938, Memphis TN) Tenor sax, flute, composer, leader. From middle-class black family; took up sax '48; classmates included Booker Little and George Coleman. He played alto with R&B bands including B.B. King and Bobby Bland; to West Coast '56, took up flute '58; studied dentistry but switched to music. Played alto with Gerald Wilson; joined Chico Hamilton '61-4, switched to tenor '62 (LPs with Hamilton on Columbia, Reprise, Impulse). He toured with Cannonball Adderley, formed his own quartet '65 and signed with Columbia: LPs '64-5 began with Discovery with bassist Richard Davis, pianist Don Friedman (b 4 May 1935, San Francisco; d 30 June 2016 of pancreatic cancer), drummer John Curtis Moses (b 18 October 1936, Philadelphia; also played with Eric Dolphy, Cedar Walton, many others; to Europe with New York Contemporary 5 '63 etc; less active in '70s due to illness). Of Course, Of Course included Gabor Szabo, Ron Carter, and Tony Williams. 

Lloyd switched to Atlantic, and a new quartet with Keith Jarrett, Cecil McBee, Jack DeJohnette made Dream Weaver, Live At Antibes, Forest Flower (live at Monterey), and Charles Lloyd In Europe, all '66. Ron McClure replaced McBee; In '67 Love-In was made live at the Fillmore. Forest Flower and Love-In charted in the Billboard pop album chart; the former was said to have sold a million, amazing for a jazz album.  Live In The Soviet Union saw some tracks from the tour issued on Melodia, Muza, and Supraphon. A documentary film Charles Lloyd -- Journey Within '69 was made by Eric Sherman. LPs on Kapp/MCA (Moonman, Warm Waters) and A&M (Geeta, Waves) followed c.'71-2; he also played electric piano and organ.

He formed a record company, Lovesongs, in the mid-'70s with Mike Love of the Beach Boys, but the flower-power era with which he'd become identified was ending; he semi-retired to teaching music and transcendental meditation on the West Coast. Weavings '78 included horns, strings and rhythm, Lloyd on soprano, tenor and flute; Big Sur Tapestry '79 was a duet with harpist Georgia Kelly on title track, plus 'Homage To The Universe', Lloyd playing oboe, recorder, flutes, both on Pacific Arts. Pianist Michel Petrucciani was a fan, looked up Lloyd and a new quartet made Montreux '82 on Elektra Musician (including a new version of 'Forest Flower') and A Night In Copenhagen '83 for Blue Note, with Lloyd on tenor and flute, Petrucciani, drummer Son Ship Theus, Palle Danielsson on bass; also with vocalist Bobby McFerrin on Blue Note. Fish Out Of Water '90 was his first studio recording in ten years, a quartet with an excellent Scandinavian rhythm section, followed by Notes From Big Sur, The Call, All My Relations '94, Canto '96 all on ECM with pianist Bobo Stenson.

A new Charles Lloyd Quartet was heard on Rabo de Nube on ECM, made in 2007 with Jason Moran on piano, Reuben Rogers on bass, and Eric Harland on drums. The quartet's following album was Mirror 2010, on which Lloyd played both tenor and alto. As Larry Blumenfeld wrote in the Wall Street Journal, Lloyd 'had been revered as a shaman and dismissed as a showman.' But the new album had 'no overabundance of notes, no conceptual clutter.' Lloyd said, 'People are searching for beauty in a world that wants to shut it out...They get so much stuff that's been packaged and put in a box. They get the cake already baked. But, you know we have to create this stuff, discover it for ourselves.'