I wholeheartedly endorse the comments of degrant: this is an absolutely fantastic disc and Charles Lloyd's best of recent times. Part of that has to do with the fact that 'Rabo de Nube' is a live recording. There is just something really special about listening to four musicians hitting sparks off one another in a live setting when this works. This disc captures the spontaneity and 'in-the-moment' quality beautifully - what a great night this must have been in Basle! Another reason why this is so good is in the electric mix of the personalities themselves. What gives the disc such impetus to my mind is above all the contrast and interplay between Lloyds ethereal, sometimes meandering, sometimes floating, but always expressive playing on saxophone and flute and Jason Moran's propulsive piano playing. In fact, it is Moran who is the real revelation on this recording. If his own records on Blue Note sometimes feel too clever for their own good, he is simply on fire here, from the edgy funk of 'Booker's Garden', through the Monk-meets-Free-Jazz intro and solo on 'La Colline de Monk' to the hard bop edge of 'Georgia Bright'. Favourite tracks? 'Promotheus', 'Migration of Spirit', the funky 'Booker's Garden' (Lloyd is great on the flute here), 'La Colline de Monk' and the lush 'Rabo de Nube'. The sound is good too: the next best thing to having Charles Lloyd in your living room. In all, magic.
Cutting to the chase this is the best, most engaging, swinging and jazz-like recording by Charles Lloyd in at least a decade. In the current millennium Lloyd has released an eclectic and substantial body of work, from the standards-heavy "The Water is Wide", to the 9/11 inspired collection of spirituals, traditionals and originals that is "Lift Every Voice", to the uneven but massive series of improvisations with the late, great Billy Higgins "Which Way is East" and, most recently the percussion-heavy combination of saxophone, drums and tabla of "Sangam".
All these releases are recommended and, throughout their course, Lloyd displays variously a lyricism, command of atmosphere and prescient sense of rhythm and much of this work, no matter its form, is underpinned by an orientalism and/or mysticism.
For at least the first two thirds of "Rabo da Nube" (meaning "Tail of a Cloud") Lloyd's new quartet unites all those attributes into a near perfect whole. All the players are in fine form and Jason Moran's piano provides the melodic counterpoint to Lloyd and overall harmonic presence sometimes noticeably lacking from "Sangam". While the opener "Prometheus", funky "Booker's Garden" and eastern sounding "Ramunujan" are all fantastic the second track "Migration of Spirit", which certainly has the spirit of A Love Supreme-era Coltrane, is utterly magnificent and Lloyd's finest achievement since his return to music in the 1990s.
Thereafter, although it is all relative, the final trio of songs (comprising a third of the album's 75 minutes) does not quite live up to the first four. "Sweet Georgia Bright" is an old favourite but is probably the weakest track here. "La colline de Monk" is an entertaining if brief tribute to the great man. However, the concluding title track is undeniably beautiful although I miss John Abercrombie's unmistakeable guitar from the version in "Lift Every Voice".
In short, more consistent that some of Lloyd's recent releases, and dazzling at best, this is a near essential addition to a great musician's oeuvre.
Rabo de Nube contains 6 original compositions by Charles Lloyd and his younger trio of experienced jazz musicians, plus Rabo de Nube by Silvio Rodrigez recorded live at Basel in 2007 for ECM.Of the 7 tracks here 5 are over 10 minutes long, improvisational,exploratory,a musical excursion into new vistas,with integrated playing by the whole quartet.There is an oriental,mystic feel to the way this music hums,throbs,vibrates,fissures and unifies totally in the now of surrender to the bliss of being.'Prometheus' opens with lyrical flights on tenor sax joined by Harland's light but insistent drumming.As the tenor sax weaves in and out,up and down,Moran's piano chases behind in climbing chordal steps.'Migration of the Spirit' is led in by Roger's melodic bass,soaring skyward on tenor sax and piano, with contrapuntal flurries by Moran.'Booker's Garden' starts with lyrical alto flute(Lloyd),taken up by Moran's beautiful solo,followed up by the explosive funk of Roger's bass locked into Harland's emphatic drumming.With 'Ramanujan' we enter the taragota playing of Lloyd,suggesting Arabian mountaintops,rhythmicinteractions between Harland's tinny drums and Moran's weaving solos,all strung like beads on the bass line.'Sweet Georgia Bright'shows Lloyd's mellow sinuousity weaving in and out of a funky rhythm section,from which Moran's driving,percussive piano sends out energetic flurries before the bass solo.This CD presents the exuberance of a voyage into the zone,where true musicians blend,open out,look around and invent without taking the limelight,but enlarging each other's contributions and the overall majesty of sound improvisation.There is the longing for a perfection that eludes you,but you climb higher to get a look.Lloyd is the shaman who feeds and is fed by the band.A gleam in the eye of modern jazz.
Five HUGE Stars!! Featuring the legendary jazz giant Charles Lloyd on alto flute, tárogató, and his mighty tenor saxophone; an effusive Jason Moran on piano; Reuben Rogers' stalwart bass and a fiery Eric Harland on drums & percussion, this set was recorded live in 2007 in Basel Switzerland. Mr Lloyd, now 70ish, continues to ardently play with fire, swing, and a technique that's somewhat reflective of Coltrane but still Lloyd's own full-tilt recognizable musical sonorities and unique compositions. Eric Harland pushes the virtuosic Mr Lloyd to unleash his profound art, prodding the group along at a furious pace on the up-tempo numbers & moderate swingers, and effectively coloring the ballads. And Charles Lloyd's tenor sax and flute have never sounded better, wonderfully recorded here.
The 'best of the best' begin with "Prometheus" as the group alternates between 'storm and eye-of-the-storm' passages with Charles and Jason getting off some amazing solos. The multi-phased "Booker's Garden" is a flute vehicle with a hint of raegae back beat and is dedicated to a friend of Lloyd's, the late star-crossed trumpeter Booker Little, and it's a wild ride. The four-note motif "Migration of Spirit" begins earthbound before it soars skyward with Reuben Rogers out of tempo, staying out of tempo as Lloyd's mellow tenor sax enters, then patiently accelerating into a grooving tempo with LLoyd getting off a great solo and then Jason effectively funks up the proceedings with single and double handed flurries: a great performance!! "La Colline de Monk" is a beautiful tone poem with Lloyd and Moran in duo. The smoldering "Ramanujan" has LLoyd blazing away on a klezmer-related Eastern European instrument, the tárogató, while Moran expands the piano's frontiers with his percussive harmonics and Harland uses blazing rim shots. The lovely ballad "Rabo de Nube" ('Tail Cloud' or whirlwind) by Cuban legend Silvio Rodriguez is pure poetry and gets to the essence of the song, just as Silvio performs it in public. In all, a great virtuosic jazz performance by Charles Lloyd and friends in this 21st Century European live set and it gets My Highest Recommendation!! Bravo, Mr Lloyd! Five HIP Stars!! (This review is based on an iTunes download.)
Lloyd tends to be rather rambling at times, and he's a bit weirder than he was, so this is a mixed bag for me. However, great band and all very individual and progressive - at least half of it was really interesting. Recording very good but not quite up to ECM's best, lacking a bit of ambience and depth, may have been miked too close.