British alto/soprano saxophonist Jon Lloyd rose to become a notable free improviser during the '90s, able to balance high-energy blowing with more subtly nuanced playing; he was also a capable composer, largely in the free-bop mode, able to give his pieces a definite structure while leaving plenty of room for improvisation. Lloyd got his start in free jazz during the '80s with the LFG Trio, and went on to found the nonet Anacrusis (with Evan Parker) and the Extempore Saxophone Quartet (with John Butcher); he also worked with vocalist Vanessa Mackness. He formed a touring quartet with the members of the trio Atlas (pianist John Law, bassist Paul Rogers, and drummer Mark Sanders), which backed Lloyd on his debut album for Leo, the 1990-recorded Syzygy. In 1991, sponsored by Britain's Arts Council, Lloyd toured England with violinist Phil Wachsmann; two years later, Lloyd embarked on another Arts Council tour with his quartet, which produced the Leo live album Head (recorded in London and Sheffield). Lloyd toured with pianist Pat Thomas in 1995, but Law was back for the 1996 session By Confusion, though bassist Rogers was replaced by Tim Wells. Seeking a musical change of pace, Lloyd next formed a sextet featuring trombone, violin, and cello, which gave him an opportunity to experiment with texture and greater structure; the ensemble debuted on record with 1997's Praxis, on Future Music. Lloyd kept cellist Stan Adler around for a new quartet with bassist Marcio Mattos and drummer Paul Clarvis, which recorded Four and Five for hatHut in 1999. In 2000, Lloyd began composing works for string quartet, and also became a member of John Law's Abacus quartet. Attempting to blend the improvised energy of his early quartet with the compositional sophistication of his sextet, Lloyd next formed a quintet featuring Adler, Law, Clarvis, and trombonist Chris Webster, which toured in early 2002.
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