Charles Lloyd

Forest Flower: Charles Lloyd at Monterey

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When Charles Lloyd brought his new band to Monterey in 1966, a band that included Keith Jarrett on piano, Jack DeJohnette on drums, and the inimitable -- though young -- Cecil McBee on bass, no one knew what to expect. But they all left floored and this LP is the document of that set. It is difficult to believe that, with players so young (and having been together under a year), Lloyd was able to muster a progressive jazz that was so far-reaching and so undeniably sophisticated, yet so rich and accessible. For starters, the opening two title tracks, which form a kind of suite (one is "Forest Flower-Sunrise," the other "Sunset"), showcased the already fully developed imagination of Jarrett as a pianist. His interplay with DeJohnette -- which has continued into the 21st century in a trio with Gary Peacock -- is remarkable: whispering arpeggios surrounded by large chords that plank up the drumming as DeJohnette crosses hands and cuts the time in order to fluctuate the time. Lloyd's own solos are demonstrative of his massive melodic gift: his improvisation skirted the edges of what was happening with Coltrane (as everyone's did), but his own sense of the deep wellspring of song and the cross-pollination of various world musics that were happening at the time kept him busy and lyrical. Elsewhere, on Jarrett's own "Sorcery," his linking front-line harmonics with Lloyd is stellar -- this isn't communication, it's telepathy! Jarrett's angular solo is buoyed up by Lloyd's gorgeous ostinato phrasing. By the time the band reaches its final number, a sky-scorching version of Brooks Bowman's "East of the Sun," they have touched upon virtually the entire history of jazz and still pushed it forward with seamless aplomb. Forest Flower is a great live record.

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