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Album Review

No one, save for perhaps Charles Lloyd, could have predicted that when he resumed his recording career in 1989 with ECM, he would scale such artistic heights as a player, a mentor, and a bandleader. Lloyd has taken part in many fascinating musical experiments: with the late Billy Higgins in Sangam with drummer Eric Harland and Indian master percussionist Zakir Hussain, as well as on his many quartet recordings. The latest version, with bassist Reuben Rodgers, Harland, and pianist Jason Moran, has been together just over four years. It should come as no surprise then, that The Athens Concert, a double disc with the truly legendary Greek contralto Maria Farantouri, is as full of the exploratory wonder and delight as his other dates for the label. Farantouri is regarded in her own country as Edith Piaf was in France. Lloyd's band and Farantouri are assisted by Socratis Sinopoulos on lyra. "Kratissa Toi Zoi Mou (I Kept a Hold of My Life)," is a tune by Mikis Theodorakis set to a poem by George Seferis. Versions of Lloyd's "Dream Weaver" and "Prayer" are the only real instrumental tracks, and his song "Blow Wind" contains lyrics sung in English by Farantouri. The tune "Requiem" is a jazz number with lyrics by the famed writer/lyricist Agathi Dimitrouka. The three-part, 15-song Greek Suite takes up the lion's share of the performance. It is comprised of tunes that range from a Byzantine-era hymn to traditional songs from various regions of Greece, two more Theodorakis tunes, and one by composer Eleni Karaindrou (also an ECM artist) entitled "Voyage to Cythera." The suite was arranged by Takis Farazis, who also plays an additional piano on set-closer "Yanni Mou," and with Sinopoulos, bridges the two traditions. There isn't anything to really describe this music other than to say it is equally out of historical time and simultaneously concurrent within its stream. The two musical traditions — post-millennial jazz and those of Greece's various eras and regions — are made seamless, creating an entirely new and singular work that is dramatic, subtle, completely soulful, and full of startling musicianship. Indeed, the quartet plays this music as if it were part of their standard repertoire for a very special occasion. Improvisation, harmonic invention, and Lloyd's singular sense of leadership don't demand fine performances from his players; they are given freely. In turn, he offers his finest to Farantouri, who brings the collective bounty to the listening audience. The Athens Concert is truly inspirational and quite a watermark in a career full of them for Lloyd. ~Thom Jurek, Rovi

Biography

Born: March 15, 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...
Full Bio
Athens Concert, Charles Lloyd
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  • $24.99
  • Genres: Jazz, Music, World
  • Released: Nov 25, 2011

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