Charles Lloyd

Notes from Big Sur

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On Notes From Big Sur, Charles Lloyd retains pianist Bobo Stenson but opts for a new rhythm section in bassist Anders Jormin and drummer Ralph Peterson. The program begins with two elegant jazz ballads, "Requiem" and "Sister" (the former would reappear on 1999's Voice in the Night). Lloyd turns toward abstraction on "Takur" and the two-part "Pilgrimage to the Mountain"; the second part, "Surrender," closes the album as a kind of benediction. The middle of the program is pretty meaty: "Sam Song," with its swinging tempo, does much to brighten the mood, as does the waltz "Monk in Paris" and the heavy, slow groove of "When Miss Jessye Sings" -- an homage, one can assume, to the opera singer Jessye Norman. With an unapologetically assertive rhythm team and scintillating solo flights from Lloyd and Stenson, Notes From Big Sur successfully portrays the California coastline for which it is named -- picturesque and soothing, although rugged and at times forbidding.

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