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The Water Is Wide

Charles Lloyd

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Album Review

Like 1999's Voice in the Night, The Water Is Wide features Charles Lloyd in the company of one of his dearest friends, drummer Billy Higgins, who would pass away less than a year after the album's release. Guitarist John Abercrombie also remains on board, but Lloyd extends the group's generational span by recruiting two younger players: pianist Brad Mehldau and bassist Larry Grenadier. The album begins with a straightforward, elegant reading of Hoagy Carmichael's "Georgia." Lloyd goes on to lead his ensemble through two lesser-known Ellington pieces, "Black Butterfly" and "Heaven"; Strayhorn's "Lotus Blossom"; two original ballads, "Figure In Blue" and "Lady Day"; and Cecil McBee's "Song of Her," a track from Lloyd's 1968 classic, Forest Flower. It's a glorious amalgam of sound: the leader's unique, glissando-laden phraseology, Mehldau's harmonic nuances, unerring rhythmic backbone from Grenadier and the majestic Higgins — and only occasionally, pointed and eloquent guitarism from Abercrombie. The session ascends to an even higher level with the inclusion of two spirituals, "The Water Is Wide" and "There Is a Balm in Gilead." The latter features just Lloyd and Higgins, starkly setting the melody against a hypnotic drum chant. In addition, Lloyd's closing "Prayer," written for Higgins during a life-threatening episode back in 1996, features just the composer, Abercrombie, and guest bassist Darek Oles. (Oddly, Oles' credit is relegated to the fine print.) These tracks, most of all, resonate with personal meaning and profundity. ~ David R. Adler, Rovi

Biography

Born: 15 March 1938 in Memphis, TN

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Saxophonist Charles Lloyd is a forward-thinking musician's musician whose supreme improvisational talents and interest in cross-pollinating jazz with rock as well as non-Western styles of music during the '60s and '70s established him as one of the key figures in the development of fusion and world music. Born in Memphis, Tennessee on March 15, 1938, Lloyd grew up surrounded by the vibrant blues and jazz scenes of his native city. Given a saxophone at age nine, Lloyd eventually studied with Memphis...
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The Water Is Wide, Charles Lloyd
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