Reed king Charles Lloyd has consistently exceeded expectations throughout his career, breaking ground in any number of jazz forms, particularly those associated with the employing of the various folk musics of the world as elemental melodic and harmonic components of his signature practice in the idiom. Canto reveals Lloyd's inner restlessness at work once again with longtime pianist Bobo Stenson, bassist Anders Jormin, and the legendary American drummer Billy Hart. The set opens with "Tales of Rumi," which has Stenson playing inside the piano, and Hart sliding around the kit without ever actually hitting it. When Lloyd enters after a lengthy intro, he does so in a post-bop phraseology that brings the tune full circle, transforming from a folk melody to a blues tune. Later, on "Nichiketa's Lament," Lloyd uses a Tibetan oboe with its high, reedy tone to play funeral music that actually becomes an exercise in pan-modalism. The title track is actually a song of sorts, based on Jimmy Giuffre's harmonic methodology and Coltrane's breather and note theory. The set closes with an unbelievably beautiful, cascading ballad where the band falls through its changes like water in a brook, and Lloyd blows through them with a heartbreaking lyrical intensity. Canto is the song of a master who employs all of his tools in the creation of a work of art.
AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek