Billed appropriately as Charles Lloyd and the Marvels, the record prominently features guitarist Bill Frisell as well as pedal steel player, Greg Leisz, bassist Reuben Rogers and drum phenom Eric Harland.
Considered a rock star of sorts, Lloyd is often cited as the first jazz musician to perform at the famed Fillmore in San Francisco
For the first time on record together, Lloyd and Frisell perform a lush and galvanizing counterpoint with one another. Typical for Frisell, who supports with his patented atmospheric guitar throughout I Long to See You, it ignites a partnership that many have called long overdue.
Often considered a rock star of sorts, Lloyd, who turns 78 this year, earned his stripes in the jazz world in the 1960s. Often cited as the first jazz musician to perform at the famed Fillmore in San Francisco, Lloyd guested on recordings by the Doors, The Beach Boys and The Byrds. Considered a big influence on Miles Davis, Lloyd shared bills with Jimi Hendrix, The Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin and Cream.
Somewhat returning to his roots after such a long career, it’s not so unlikely his latest work should start with Bob Dylan’s “Masters of War”; flowing in a droning style, Lloyd and Frisell trade melodies to introduce the song. Allowing for a lot of space, drummer Eric Harland’s sparse rhythm carries the band, allowing Lloyd to truly let go with a sheets of sound manner at the center of the tune.
The band returns to Lloyd’s past with the bouncing “Of Course, Of Course.” Originally recorded as the title track to his 1965 release, here we find Harland moving the song along with heavy rhythm accents, coupled with a tasteful pedal steel solo from Leisz that echoes Frisell’s spacious chord changes while a staccato flute melody allows Lloyd to lay back, allowing and the band continues the groove until its somewhat abrupt ending.
Lloyd describes the album as an exploration of “inner and outer peace,” and it flows beautifully as a meditation of sorts
Propelled again by Harland’s drums, Lloyd picks up the pace for the melodic “Sombrero Sam.” Originally recorded on Lloyd’s 1966, Dream Weaver, Frisell provides the intro that recalls the energy of past Lloyd collaborator, Hungarian guitarist Gábor Szabó.
A touch of elegance and an endearing saxophone solo sets the tone for another vocal on the record provided by labelmate, Norah Jones, on “You Are So Beautiful.” Bordering on a lullaby, their rendition floats through the speakers as Jones and Lloyd trade verses between voice and horn, upholding the direct emotional weight of the Joe Cocker original.
Giving the new disc even more variety, the Marvels enlist country legend Willie Nelson for a joyful waltz-like version of the anti-war staple, “Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream.”
I Long to See You, described by Lloyd as an exploration of “inner and outer peace,” flows beautifully as a meditation of sorts. His intention to encompass “the sound and feeling [and] the quantum mechanics of love,” is evident throughout the recording.
From a true master so late in his career to assemble a collection of new collaborators and achieve such a glowing collection of new work is a very encouraging, and clear, statement of how to age gracefully at the top of your game.