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Charles Lloyd New Quartet: Passin’ Thru (Blue Note)

Review of live album from the legendary saxophonist with his working band

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Charles Lloyd New Quartet: "Passin’ Thru"
Charles Lloyd New Quartet: “Passin’ Thru”

Passin’ Thru marks a decade for saxophonist/flutist Charles Lloyd’s “New Quartet” featuring pianist Jason Moran, bassist Reuben Rogers and drummer Eric Harland. (The name differentiates this unit from his 1960s quartet with Keith Jarrett, Cecil McBee and Jack DeJohnette.) Not surprisingly, it finds them even tighter and more inventive than on their 2007 debut, when critics proclaimed them one of jazz’s finest working bands. Four of the seven tunes date from the ’60s; Passin’ Thru shares its title track with that of Lloyd’s seminal 1962 Chico Hamilton date. Clearly, more than 10 years’ history figure here.

Case in point: Lloyd renders the original quartet’s “Tagore” (retitled “Tagore on the Delta”) as a kind of modal hippie jam. He drops flute flourishes and satisfied grunts all over Rogers and Harland’s rock groove, which Moran augments by strumming his piano strings like an autoharp. (Moran also takes a keyed solo, sounding remarkably like Jarrett.) A throwback, sure, but as fresh-sounding as ever.

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