Charles Lloyd: The Flowering


This band flourished and bloomed, according to the sleevenote writer, on its final European tour in 1966, aided and abetted by some nimble promotion and publicity. Well, maybe, but this was never my idea of a great jazz quartet. On the other hand this concert does have a certain ambience about it not least because of the lively and inspired playing by the quartet and the wild, enthusiastic applause of the audience after each selection.

They were obviously fired up by the musicians who in turn were on top form on this evening. Lloyd’s tenor sounds somewhat pinched on the tracks where he plays that instrument, notably the opening Speak Low which is taken at a faster tempo than usual. DeJohnette backs him with a high-velocity barrage most of the time and Jarrett’s piano solo is in the free style, adding contrast to an explosive mix.

It slows down considerably on the first Love In/Island Blues, a low-down, funky example of the genre. Everybody plays well here, digging into the blues with commitment and, it seems, enjoyment. You can sense the atmosphere and the audience spurring the musicians on in what sounds like an open-air performance.

Best track of the set is Gypsy 66 where Lloyd’s pure-toned flute is far removed from his slightly blurred, soft-focus tenor sax. It runs for over 14 minutes and all participants build up a fine head of steam in solo with DeJohnette constantly stoking the fires behind the soloists. Jarrett again goes free style including pulling at the strings inside the piano and, towards the end, picking up a tambourine and then a soprano recorder before returning to the piano to take it out.

Goin’ To Memphis/Island Blues is not quite as solid as the earlier track, with Lloyd swapping flute for tenor sax and again, wild interjections from Jarrett and DeJohnette. McBee has one extended solo where he spirals up and down from low bass to treble in a manner reminiscent of Jimmy Garrison with Coltrane.

There are other similarities with the Coltrane quartet, particularly in the close attention DeJohnette pays to Lloyd’s tenor-sax excursions. It was obviously a highly successful concert and the music is very good overall in a slightly derivative manner. Manufactured and distributed by

Speak Low; Love In/Island Blues; Wilpans; Gypsy 66; Goin’ To Memphis/Island Blues (42.33)
Lloyd (ts, f); Keith Jarrett (p); Cecil McBee (b); Jack DeJohnette (d). Oslo, 1966.
Atlantic SD 1586