The December 1999 sessions that produced The Water Is Wide yielded enough material for a second album. Hyperion With Higgins is the result, and its title reflects the sad fact that Billy Higgins, Lloyd's friend and soul mate and the session's drummer, passed away not long after the music was put to tape. The music's spiritual quality is heightened by the after-the-fact dedication. Quite unlike The Water Is Wide, Hyperion With Higgins is comprised entirely of Lloyd's original compositions, although the same lineup is featured: Lloyd, Higgins, John Abercrombie, Brad Mehldau, and Larry Grenadier. After a couple of fairly straightforward jazz pieces ("Dancing Waters, Big Sur to Bahia" and "Bharati"), the quintet delves into two longer works: "Secret Life of the Forbidden City" and the Coltrane-esque "Miss Jessye." They then romp through the title track, a spirited mid-tempo blues, before tackling the album's centerpiece: the five-part "Darkness on the Delta Suite," an ambitious, free-leaning melange of Eastern and rural blues connotations (with a brilliant solo interlude by Abercrombie). The last two pieces -- "Dervish on the Glory B" and "The Caravan Moves On" -- depart almost completely from jazz vernacular. The former recalls the upbeat, folk-like drone of the sunset portion of "Forest Flower," while the latter, featuring Lloyd on taragato, evokes not only the Middle Eastern desert, but also the inexorable march of time. Thus does a fitting homage to the departed Higgins conclude this exceptionally focused, all-original statement from Charles Lloyd.
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AllMusic Review by David R. Adler
Darkness On The Delta Suite: Mother Where Art Thou/Robert Johnson On The Bank Of The Ganges/Perseverance/Till The River Runs Free/Peace In The Storm