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Charles Lloyd Quartet at JVC – New York

Charles Lloyd

On his recent albums, Jason Moran has been experimenting with samples of spoken speech as springboards for improvisation, using the rhythms and inflections of people talking as cues for his piano solos. In his new role as a member of the Charles Lloyd Quartet, Moran applied that approach to live spoken word during the band’s appearance at the JVC Jazz Festival in New York.

The evening began with the U.S. poet laureate, Charles Simic, reading four poems about jazz and New York. During the final two poems, “Crepuscule with Nellie” (which shares its title with a ballad Thelonious Monk wrote for his wife) and “Two for Charles Lloyd,” the quartet came in quietly behind him, Lloyd murmuring in agreement on the tenor sax, Moran playing whole notes, each in a different, stranger voicing, Reuben Rogers dropping in strategic upright bass notes, and Eric Harland adding rattling hand percussion. “Late night talk on a tenor,” the poet in the gray thatched hair and rimless glasses read, “with the dead and the shadows they cast.”

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