Charles Lloyd (jazz musician)

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Charles Lloyd
Charles Lloyd in Melbourne 2014.jpg
Lloyd in 2014
Background information
Born (1938-03-15) March 15, 1938 (age 81)
Memphis, Tennessee, United States
Genres Jazz
Instruments Tenor saxophone, flute
Years active1959–present
Labels Atlantic, Blue Note, Columbia, ECM, Pacific Arts

Charles Lloyd (born March 15, 1938) is an American jazz musician. Though he primarily plays tenor saxophone and flute, he has occasionally recorded on other reed instruments, including alto saxophone and the Hungarian tárogató. Lloyd's band since 2007 includes pianist Jason Moran, bassist Reuben Rogers, and drummer Eric Harland.

Jazz is a music genre that originated in the African-American communities of New Orleans, United States. It originated in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and developed from roots in blues and ragtime. Jazz is seen by many as "America's classical music". Since the 1920s Jazz Age, jazz has become recognized as a major form of musical expression. It then emerged in the form of independent traditional and popular musical styles, all linked by the common bonds of African-American and European-American musical parentage with a performance orientation. Jazz is characterized by swing and blue notes, call and response vocals, polyrhythms and improvisation. Jazz has roots in West African cultural and musical expression, and in African-American music traditions including blues and ragtime, as well as European military band music. Intellectuals around the world have hailed jazz as "one of America's original art forms".

Tenor saxophone type of saxophone

The tenor saxophone is a medium-sized member of the saxophone family, a group of instruments invented by Adolphe Sax in the 1840s. The tenor and the alto are the two most commonly used saxophones. The tenor is pitched in the key of B (while the alto is pitched in the key of E), and written as a transposing instrument in the treble clef, sounding an octave and a major second lower than the written pitch. Modern tenor saxophones which have a high F key have a range from A2 to E5 (concert) and are therefore pitched one octave below the soprano saxophone. People who play the tenor saxophone are known as "tenor saxophonists", "tenor sax players", or "saxophonists".

Alto saxophone Type of saxophone

The alto saxophone, also referred to as the alto sax, is a member of the saxophone family of woodwind instruments invented by Belgian instrument designer Adolphe Sax in the 1840s, and patented in 1846. It is pitched in E, and is smaller than the tenor, but larger than the soprano. The alto sax is the most common saxophone and is commonly used in concert bands, chamber music, solo repertoire, military bands, marching bands, and jazz. The fingerings of the different saxophones are all the same so a saxophone player can play any type of saxophone.


Early years

Charles Lloyd at Russian River Jazz Festival, Guerneville, California, 1981 Charles LloydRR.jpg
Charles Lloyd at Russian River Jazz Festival, Guerneville, California, 1981
Charles Lloyd at Copenhagen Jazz Festival 2018 Charles-lloyd DSC02206.jpg
Charles Lloyd at Copenhagen Jazz Festival 2018

Charles Lloyd grew up in Memphis and was exposed to blues, gospel and jazz. He is of African, Cherokee, Mongolian, and Irish ancestry. He was given his first saxophone at the age of 9 and was riveted by 1940s radio broadcasts by Charlie Parker, Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young, Billie Holiday and Duke Ellington. His early teachers included pianist Phineas Newborn, Jr. and saxophonist Irvin Reason. His closest childhood friend was trumpeter Booker Little. As a teenager Lloyd played jazz with saxophonist George Coleman, Harold Mabern, and Frank Strozier, and was a sideman for Johnny Ace, Bobby "Blue" Bland, Howlin' Wolf and B.B. King.

Blues is a music genre and musical form which was originated in the Deep South of the United States around the 1870s by African-Americans from roots in African musical traditions, African-American work songs, and spirituals. Blues incorporated spirituals, work songs, field hollers, shouts, chants, and rhymed simple narrative ballads. The blues form, ubiquitous in jazz, rhythm and blues and rock and roll, is characterized by the call-and-response pattern, the blues scale and specific chord progressions, of which the twelve-bar blues is the most common. Blue notes, usually thirds, fifths or sevenths flattened in pitch are also an essential part of the sound. Blues shuffles or walking bass reinforce the trance-like rhythm and form a repetitive effect known as the groove.

Gospel music is a genre of Christian music. The creation, performance, significance, and even the definition of gospel music varies according to culture and social context. Gospel music is composed and performed for many purposes, including aesthetic pleasure, religious or ceremonial purposes, and as an entertainment product for the marketplace. Gospel music usually has dominant vocals with Christian lyrics. Gospel music can be traced to the early 17th century, with roots in the black oral tradition. Hymns and sacred songs were often repeated in a call and response fashion. Most of the churches relied on hand clapping and foot stomping as rhythmic accompaniment. Most of the singing was done a cappella. The first published use of the term "gospel song" probably appeared in 1874. The original gospel songs were written and composed by authors such as George F. Root, Philip Bliss, Charles H. Gabriel, William Howard Doane, and Fanny Crosby. Gospel music publishing houses emerged. The advent of radio in the 1920s greatly increased the audience for gospel music. Following World War II, gospel music moved into major auditoriums, and gospel music concerts became quite elaborate.

Charlie Parker American jazz saxophonist and composer

Charles Parker Jr., also known as Yardbird and Bird, was an American jazz saxophonist and composer. Parker was a highly influential jazz soloist and a leading figure in the development of bebop, a form of jazz characterized by fast tempos, virtuosic technique and advanced harmonies. Parker was a blazingly fast virtuoso, and he introduced revolutionary harmonic ideas including rapid passing chords, new variants of altered chords, and chord substitutions. His tone ranged from clean and penetrating to sweet and somber. Parker acquired the nickname "Yardbird" early in his career on the road with Jay McShann. This, and the shortened form "Bird", continued to be used for the rest of his life, inspiring the titles of a number of Parker compositions, such as "Yardbird Suite", "Ornithology", "Bird Gets the Worm", and "Bird of Paradise". Parker was an icon for the hipster subculture and later the Beat Generation, personifying the jazz musician as an uncompromising artist and intellectual rather than just an entertainer.

In 1956 Lloyd left Memphis for Los Angeles to earn a degree in music at the University of Southern California, where he studied with Halsey Stevens, whose speciality was Bartók. At night, he played in jazz clubs with Ornette Coleman, Billy Higgins, Scott LaFaro, Don Cherry, Charlie Haden, Eric Dolphy, Bobby Hutcherson and other leading west coast jazz artists. He also was a member of the Gerald Wilson big band.

Halsey Stevens was a music professor, biographer, and composer of American music.

Ornette Coleman American jazz saxophonist, violinist, trumpeter, and composer

Randolph Denard Ornette Coleman was an American jazz saxophonist, violinist, trumpeter, and composer. In the 1960s, he was one of the founders of free jazz, a term he invented for his album Free Jazz: A Collective Improvisation. His "Broadway Blues" and "Lonely Woman" have become standards and are cited as important early works in free jazz. His album Sound Grammar received the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for Music.

Billy Higgins American jazz drummer

Billy Higgins was an American jazz drummer. He played mainly free jazz and hard bop.

Professional career

In 1960 Lloyd was invited to become music director of Chico Hamilton's group when Eric Dolphy left to join Charles Mingus's band. The Hungarian guitarist Gábor Szabó, bassist Albert "Sparky" Stinson, and trombonist Charles Bohanan soon joined Lloyd in the band. Hamilton's albums on Impulse!, Passin' Thru and Man from Two Worlds , featured music arranged and written almost entirely by Lloyd. He collaborated with Nigerian drummer Babatunde Olatunji, with whom he played when he wasn't on the road with Hamilton. He joined the Cannonball Adderley Sextet in 1964, and performed with Nat Adderley, Joe Zawinul, Sam Jones and Louis Hayes. For two years he remained with Cannonball Adderley, whom he credits in his own development as a leader.

Chico Hamilton American musician

Foreststorn "Chico" Hamilton, was an American jazz drummer and bandleader. He came to prominence as sideman for Lester Young, Gerry Mulligan, Count Basie, and Lena Horne. Hamilton became a bandleader, first with a quintet featuring the cello as a lead instrument, an unusual choice for a jazz band in the 1950s, and subsequently leading bands that performed cool jazz, post bop, and jazz fusion.

Charles Mingus American jazz double bassist, composer and bandleader

Charles Mingus Jr. was an American jazz double bassist, pianist, composer and bandleader. A major proponent of collective improvisation, he is considered to be one of the greatest jazz musicians and composers in history, with a career spanning three decades and collaborations with other jazz legends such as Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Dannie Richmond, and Herbie Hancock.

Gábor Szabó Hungarian musician

Gábor István Szabó was a Hungarian American guitarist whose style incorporated jazz, pop, rock, and Hungarian music.

In 1964 Lloyd signed with CBS Records and began to record as a leader. His Columbia recordings, Discovery! (1964), and Of Course, Of Course (1965), featured Roy Haynes and Tony Williams on drums, Richard Davis and Ron Carter on bass, Gabor Szabo on guitar and Don Friedman on piano, and led to his being voted Down Beat magazine's "New Star." Of Course, Of Course was reissued on Mosaic Records in 2006.

<i>Discovery!</i> 1964 studio album by Charles Lloyd

Discovery! is the debut album by jazz saxophonist Charles Lloyd released on the Columbia label featuring performances by Lloyd with Don Friedman, Eddie Khan, Roy Haynes, Richard Davis and J.C. Moses. The Allmusic review by Scott Yanow awarded the album 4 stars and states "Lloyd's Coltrane-inspired sound was already in place, and his flute playing was becoming distinctive. The music is essentially melodic but advanced hard bop, a strong start to an important career". The piece "Ol' Five Spot" is a homage to the legendary New York jazz club of the same name. The album was also released with the title Bizarre in the UK, at the time.

Mosaic Records

Mosaic Records is an American jazz record company and label established in 1982 by Michael Cuscuna and Charlie Lourie. It produces limited-edition box sets that are available only by mail.


In New York in 1966, Lloyd was joined by drummer Jack DeJohnette, pianist Keith Jarrett and bassist Cecil McBee to form a formidable quartet. Their 1966 album Forest Flower was one of the most successful jazz recordings of the mid-1960s, building an audience of rock as well as jazz fans. The Quartet toured across America and Europe. In 1967 Lloyd was voted "Jazz Artist of the Year" by DownBeat magazine. [1]

Jack DeJohnette American jazz drummer, pianist, and composer

Jack DeJohnette is an American jazz drummer, pianist, and composer.

Keith Jarrett American musician

Keith Jarrett is an American jazz and classical music pianist and composer.

Cecil McBee American bassist

Cecil McBee is an American jazz bassist. He has recorded as a leader only a handful of times since the 1970s, but has contributed as a sideman to a number of jazz albums.

Lloyd is given credit for anticipating world music by incorporating music from other cultures into his compositions, as early as the late 1950s. He describes his music as having "danced on many shores". [2] Peter Watrous stated, "Lloyd has come up with a strange and beautiful distillation of the American experience, part abandoned and wild, part immensely controlled and sophisticated." [3]

Despite recording several albums during the 1970s and occasionally appearing as a sideman, he practically disappeared from the jazz scene. During the 1970s Lloyd played extensively with the Beach Boys both on their studio recordings and as a member of their touring band. He was a member of Celebration, a band composed of members of the Beach Boys' touring band as well as Mike Love and Al Jardine. Celebration released two albums. [4] [5]

Lloyd returned to the jazz world in 1981 when he toured with Michel Petrucciani. British jazz critic Brian Case called Lloyd's return "one of the events of the 1980s." [6] The group produced a special edition cassette, Night Blooming Jasmine, and two live records, Montreux 82 and A Night in Copenhagen , which also features Bobby McFerrin. After the tour, Lloyd again retreated to Big Sur.

In 1986, after being hospitalized with a nearly fatal medical condition, Lloyd rededicated himself to music. When he regained his strength in 1988 he formed a new quartet with Swedish pianist Bobo Stenson. When Lloyd returned to the Montreux Festival in 1988, Swiss critic Yvan Ischer wrote: "To see and hear Charles Lloyd in concert is always an event, not only because this saxophonist has been at quite a few crossroads, but also because he seems to hold an impalpable truth which makes him a thoroughly original musician...This is what we call grace." [2]

Recording for ECM

In 1989 Lloyd made his first recording for ECM Records, Fish Out of Water . Manfred Eicher, ECM's founder and producer, compared the recording to a Giacometti painting, saying, "I really believe this is the refined essence of what music should be. All the meat is gone, only the bones remain." [6] From 1989, Lloyd toured and recorded for ECM. Noteworthy albums include Canto , Voice in the Night , The Water Is Wide (featuring Brad Mehldau, John Abercrombie, Larry Grenadier and Billy Higgins), Lift Every Voice (featuring Geri Allen), and the live Rabo de Nube (with Jason Moran).

Lloyd's albums for ECM contain elements of world music and experimentation, as in the duets on Which Way Is East with his longtime friend, Billy Higgins. [7] [8] [9]

Mirror , his second recording with the New Quartet (2010), has been called a "Charles Lloyd classic." Rabo de Nube , also on ECM, captured the quartet "live" at its inception, and was voted No. 1 recording for the 2008 JazzTimes Reader's and Critic's Poll. [10]

Lloyd collaborated with the classical Greek singer, Maria Farantouri, for a concert at the Herodion Theater at the Acropolis. Ta Nea , a newspaper in Athens, stated "Music has no borders...The audience was filled with a Dionysian ecstasy. While the music had reminiscences of a Hypiros fair, at the same time it took you to the heart of New York City." [6] This concert was recorded and Athens Concert was released by ECM in 2011. [11]

Lloyd celebrated his 75th birthday in 2013 with concerts in the Temple of Dendur at the Metropolitan Museum and the Kennedy Center Concert Hall. [12] [13] On June 25, 2014 it was announced that Lloyd will receive the NEA Jazz Masters Award 2015. [14] Lloyd was the Honoree at the 2014 Monterey Jazz Festival Jazz Legends Gala, hosted by Herbie Hancock. [15] Lloyd was the recipient of the 2014 Alfa Jazz Fest International Music Award. [16] In January 2015, it was announced that Lloyd had signed with Blue Note Records. Wild Man Dance , a live recording of a long-form suite commissioned by the Jazztopad Festival in Wroclaw, Poland, was released in April 2015. [17] Lloyd was presented with an honorary Doctor of Music degree from the Berklee College of Music in a ceremony at the Umbria Jazz Festival in July 2015. [18] In 2016, Lloyd was inducted into the Memphis Music Hall of Fame. [19]

Personal life

Lloyd lives in Southern California with his wife, Dorothy Darr. [20]


Charles Lloyd with Reuben Rogers and Eric Harland, Santa Barbara, 2006 Charles Lloyd, with Reuben Rogers & Eric Harland, Santa Barbara 9-2006, Image by Scott Williams.JPG
Charles Lloyd with Reuben Rogers and Eric Harland, Santa Barbara, 2006

As leader

Release dateTitleLabel
1964 Discovery! Columbia
1965 Of Course, of Course Columbia
1968 Nirvana Columbia
1966 Dream Weaver Atlantic
1966 Forest Flower Atlantic
1966 The Flowering Atlantic
1966 Charles Lloyd in Europe Atlantic
1967 Love-In Atlantic
1967 Journey Within Atlantic
1967 Charles Lloyd in the Soviet Union Atlantic
1968 Soundtrack Atlantic
1970 Moon Man Kapp
1971 Warm Waters Kapp
1972 Waves A&M
1973 Geeta A&M
1973 Morning Sunrise ADC
1978 Weavings Pacific Arts
1978 Koto (Same album as Pathless Path)ADC
1979 Pathless Path (Same album as Koto) Unity
1979 Big Sur Tapestry Pacific Arts
1979 Autumn in New York Destiny
1982 Montreux 82 Elektra/Musician
1983 A Night in Copenhagen Blue Note
1989 Fish Out of Water ECM
1992 Notes from Big Sur ECM
1993 Acoustic Masters I Atlantic
1993 The Call ECM
1994 All My Relations ECM
1996 Canto ECM
1999 Voice in the Night ECM
2000 The Water Is Wide ECM
2001 Hyperion with Higgins ECM
2002 Lift Every Voice ECM
2004 Which Way Is East ECM
2005 Jumping the Creek ECM
2006 Sangam ECM
2008 Rabo de Nube ECM
2010 Mirror ECM
2011 Athens Concert (with Maria Farantouri)ECM
2013 Hagar's Song (with Jason Moran)ECM
2014 Manhattan Stories Resonance
2015 Wild Man Dance Blue Note
2016 I Long to See You (with The Marvels)Blue Note
2017 Passin' Thru Blue Note
2018Vanished Gardens (with The Marvels + Lucinda Williams)Blue Note

As sideman

Release dateTitleLabelNotes
With Cannonball Adderley
1964 Cannonball Adderley Live! Capitol
1964 Cannonball Adderley's Fiddler on the Roof Capitol
1991 Radio Nights Night/Virgin
With Canned Heat
1971 Historical Figures and Ancient Heads United Artists Appears on two tracks
With Celebration
1978 Almost Summer: Music from the Original Motion Picture MCA
1979 Celebration Pacific Arts
1979 Disco Celebration ADC
With Chico Hamilton
1960 Bye Bye Birdie-Irma La Douce Columbia
1960 The Chico Hamilton Special Columbia
1962 Drumfusion Columbia
1962 Transfusion Studio West
1962 Passin' Thru Impulse!
1963 A Different Journey Reprise
1964 Man from Two Worlds Impulse!
1965 Chic Chic Chico Impulse!Appears on only one track
With Mark Isham
1998 Afterglow: Music from the Motion Picture Columbia
With Harvey Mandel
1972The Snake Janus Appears on only one track
With Les McCann
1961 Les McCann Sings Pacific Jazz Appears on four tracks
With Roger McGuinn
1973 Roger McGuinn ColumbiaAppears on two tracks
With Joe Sample
1995 Old Places, Old Faces Warner Bros. Appears on three tracks
With Gábor Szabó
1973 Gábor Szabó Live Blue Thumb Appears on only one track
With The Beach Boys
1971 Surf's Up Brother/Reprise Appears on only one track
1973 Holland Brother/Reprise
1976 15 Big Ones Brother/RepriseAppears on only one track
1978 M.I.U. Album Brother/Reprise
With The Doors
1972 Full Circle Elektra Appears on "Verdilac" and "The Piano Bird"
With William Truckaway
1976 Breakaway Reprise


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  1. "1967 Downbeat Readers Poll". DownBeat Magazine. December 31, 1967. Archived from the original on September 27, 2013. Retrieved May 14, 2013.
  2. 1 2 Lloyd, Charles. "Biography" (PDF). Retrieved April 24, 2014.
  3. Watrous, Peter (June 22, 1992). "Review/Jazz Festival; Tribute to Coltrane from Charles Lloyd". New York Times.
  4. Kluck, Henk; Stubenrauch, Robert (2003). Dream Weaver: Charles Lloyd – His Life and Music. Thora Press. pp. 62, 70, 75–79. ISBN   90-9016658-0.
  5. "Video: The Beach Boys, "All This is That" live 1978" . Retrieved April 28, 2014.
  6. 1 2 3 "All About Jazz Musician Profile: Charles Lloyd". All About Jazz. Retrieved April 24, 2014.
  7. Richardson, Derk (April 1, 2004). "A Jazz Love Affair / Charles Lloyd pays homage to Billy Higgins at the SF Jazz Fest Spring Season". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved May 16, 2013.
  8. Elwood, Philip (March 22, 2001). "Loving Tribute for Higgins / Emotional riffs by Sanders, Lloyd". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved May 16, 2013.
  9. Elwood, Philip (October 28, 1997). "Jazz Fest's Drum Summit". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved May 16, 2013.
  10. "2008 Year in Review: Top 50 CDs". JazzTimes. January 2009. Retrieved April 24, 2014.
  11. "ECM Records Catalog". ECM Records Official Site. ECM Records. Archived from the original on April 24, 2014. Retrieved April 24, 2014.
  12. "Charles Lloyd New Quartet and Friends at The Temple of Dendur". Metropolitan Museum of Art. Metropolitan Museum of Art. Retrieved April 24, 2014.
  13. "Charles Lloyd Birthday Celebration". The Kennedy Center Official Website. The Kennedy Center. Retrieved April 24, 2014.
  14. "NEA Announces Lifetime Honors Recipients | NEA". June 25, 2014. Retrieved May 20, 2015.
  15. "2015 Jazz Legends Gala | 58th Annual Monterey Jazz Festival – September 18 – 20, 2015". Retrieved May 20, 2015.
  16. "Фестиваль "Альфа Джаз"". Archived from the original on October 6, 2014. Retrieved May 20, 2015.
  18. Keefe-Feldman, Mike. "Berklee, Umbria Jazz Festival Celebrate 30-Year Partnership". Retrieved August 4, 2015.
  19. Shaw, Chris. "Memphis Music Hall of Fame Announces 2016 Inductees". Memphis Flyer. Retrieved September 13, 2016.
  20. Woodard, Josef (June 2008). "Charles Lloyd". JazzTimes. Archived from the original on May 23, 2013. Retrieved July 9, 2013.