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Arrows Into Infinity - A film by Dorothy Darr & Jeffery Morse [DVD]  [NTSC]
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Arrows Into Infinity chronicles Charles Lloyd's life, moving through time with memories, archive footage and music, lots of music. The film, directed and produced by Dorothy Darr and Jeffery Morse, includes interviews with Lloyd's current quartet of Jason Moran, Reuben Rogers and Eric Harland, and tabla master Zakir Hussain from his Sangam trio. Among others who contribute their thoughts to this remarkable documentary are Herbie Hancock, Ornette Coleman, Robbie Robertson, Jack DeJohnette, Don Was, John Densmore, Jim Keltner, Geri Allen, Larry Grenadier, Stanley Crouch and Manfred Eicher.
Charles Lloyd's story is a special one, and it intersects with important moments in jazz history. Lloyd grew up in Memphis, Tennessee, and had early contact both to masters of an increasingly sophisticated jazz tradition and the raw voices of the blues. Booker Little was a childhood friend, Phineas Newborn a mentor. In his teens Lloyd hit the road with Howlin' Wolf. He befriended Ornette Coleman, Don Cherry and Billy Higgins in a period when blueprints for musical freedom were redrawn, and replaced Eric Dolphy in Chico Hamilton's band, building a reputation as an exceptional saxophonist and a composer of strikingly original melodies. His own groups drew together some of the day's most exciting players, and his late 60s quartet with Keith Jarrett and Jack DeJohnette made a huge impact, playing opposite Hendrix and Janis Joplin at the Fillmore Auditorium, touring Europe's festivals to great acclaim, making a now-legendary foray into the Soviet Union, and selling a million copies of their Forest Flower album, a massive FM radio hit.
Then Lloyd retreated from the limelight, preferring to play his flute in the mountain forests of Big Sur. For almost two decades sightings of him in jazz contexts were rare. A tentative return was made in the company of pianist Michel Petrucciani; the 1989 ECM recording Fish Out Of Water, with Bobo Stenson, Palle Danielsson and Jon Christensen signalled a new beginning. Since then he's led a succession of outstanding bands including the recent quartet with Jason Moran, Reuben Rogers and Eric Harland.
"Arrows gives a rare insight into the life of one of contemporary music's giants. The film finds a satisfying balance between documentary and exquisite live performance. There were times when I felt like clapping." - Mike Figgis, film director
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Those who know Lloyd's music and career well will find much to like about this film as it delves deeply into the different stages of his life and music, including the decade between the early 1970s and 1980s in which he stopped performing publicly and disappeared from public view, though he continued to record. If you are interested in a beautifully crafted and intimate look at the life of a most significant artist, you will enjoy this film as well. It is a watershed film in the genre of music documentaries.
Rich and evocative tracks with Charle's personal
insights on his spiritual search, collaborations
and his mastery of jazz's ephemeral moments
of magic. Easily (5) stars !