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on 20 December 2013
Lloyd had got himself something of a pedigree by the time the first of the five albums reissued here was recorded in July of 1989. The title of that album is FISH OUT OF WATER, while the others (in date order) are NOTES FROM BIG SUR, THE CALL, ALL MY RELATIONS and CANTO, and they all to varying degrees showcase both Charles Lloyd the relatively personal stylist and Charles Lloyd the devotee of John Coltrane circa 1960. For this listener the combination makes for frustrating listening, but this is of course only a personal opinion. Bobo Stenson is the pianist throughout the set, the only constant presence apart from Lloyd and often the source of the most satisfying -that is to say the least frustrating- music on offer.

Throughout NOTES..... -to cite an example- Lloyd shows an ability to summon up the musical equivalent of a photocopy of Coltrane at will, allow it to colour his playing for, say, fourteen bars, then slip back inside his own musical personality as if nothing had happened and he was `back in the room' By contrast Stenson's contribution to "Sister" is both elegant in the best sense and entirely his own.

For these admittedly jaded ears THE CALL offers the most substance of the five albums, not least because drummer Billy Hart (surely the nearest thing we have to Billy Higgins in this second decade of the 21st century?) isn't as buttoned up as some of the other drummers in this set, and because he isn't Lloyd can't resort to that kind of languorous thing that seems to come so naturally to him. Hart energises Stenson too, and to the point where the understanding between the two men takes the spotlight away from the leader.

To his credit Lloyd is too old and was / is too wise to be coming out of the Brecker / Potter school of tenor sax playing. Throughout this set his work is often deeply -perhaps too deeply- contemplative, while his flute playing as featured only intermittently on FISH OUT OF WATER and ALL MY RELATIONS is so distinctive that these ears would undoubtedly prick up over the course of an all-flute album. None of this matters to his converts of course, but I'd urge caution on everyone else.
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on 19 June 2013
A fabulous collection of the first five comeback albums for Charles Lioyd on ECM. The plaintive tone of Lloyd's saxophone balanced against the constantly inventive playing of pianist, Bobo Stenson make this set essential. Beautifully recorded and stylishly presented. If you wish to find out what all the fuss about Charles Lloyd is then this set will answer all your questions and make you want to delve back to the 1960's recordings and move forward to Lloyd's current releases pairing him with pianist, Jason Moran. Great value and a boxed set that will be played frequently and always delight
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on 24 October 2015
Lloyd plays Sax the way I want to! He has a unique sound that is all him. So don't know why people are saying he's like a Coltrane impersonator! No way. I chill to Lloyd...even fall asleep delightfully to these meditative tunes. Bobo Stenson plays a rich piano throughout. The whole thing oozes style and sincerity: Lloyd! This price is give away...for the hours of quality jazz that are here.
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on 12 May 2013
If you came to Lloyd through the recent, sublime work with Jason Moran - these recordings as a set have a poignancy that might have escaped the ear when they first appeared. the set is both substantial and a work in progress. Lloyd proves the obvious - great music requires great work and dedication, even from the best.
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