Voice in the Night

Charles Lloyd

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Voice in the Night Review

by Thom Jurek

Charles Lloyd teams with a different band here, replacing Bobo Stenson's piano with John Abercrombie's guitar, bassist Anders Jormin with Dave Holland, and drummer Billy Hart with Billy Higgins. The title references the feeling on the album in that Lloyd was going for more of a jazz sound, something more basic and lyrical as opposed to exotic and unusual. Of the eight tunes here, six are Lloyd originals, one is a cover of the Elvis Costello/Burt Bacharach hit "God Give Me Strength," and one is the Billy Strayhorn classic, "A Flower Is a Lovesome Thing," which follows a gorgeous reprise of Lloyd's own "Forest Flower" from the '60s. The Costello/Bacharach tune is the most telling for this band in that they take a standard pop melody and turn it into a modal exploration of harmony and chromatic invention. As Lloyd plays variations on the melody, the band turns one harmonic sequence into a pillar from Coltrane's version of "My Favorite Things" and back. The "Forest Flower" suite is awesome. The interplay between Lloyd and Abercrombie is fully realized as they trade flatted sevenths and then Abercrombie moves into augmented ninths and diminished sixths before both Lloyd and he solo against the harmonic body of the tune while retaining its melodic sensibility. It's just breathtaking.

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