Vanished Gardens

Vanished Gardens

by Charles Lloyd

CD

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Overview

On Charles Lloyd & the Marvels 2016 debut, I Long to See You, the ensemble -- the saxophonist's rhythm section, drummer Eric Harland and bassist Reuben Rogers, and guitarists Bill Frisell and Greg Leisz -- delivered an honorable but overly deferential outing that somewhat belied the promise of its personnel. On Vanished Gardens, the Marvels leave deference in the dustbin. Here, with the assistance of Lucinda Williams, they create a music that draws on the sum total of experience and shared emotion. Lloyd, Frisell, and Leisz have all worked with rockers and country and blues players, while Harland and Rogers are jazz modernists rooted in tradition. The addition of Williams on four of her own tunes and a cover of Jimi Hendrix's "Angel" transforms this band into a genre-blurring ensemble whose abilities mine the jazz and Americana traditions to redefine them in the new century. "Defiant" commences as an extended showcase for Lloyd's modal and melodic soloing with loping pedal steel inside a 4/4 shuffle with Frisell's lonesome, lyrical playing. Williams enters on "Dust." The song originally appeared on 2016's Ghosts of Highway 20. In waltz time, Frisell's rockist power chords and Leisz's lap steel wails meet Lloyd's swirling, loping tenor that offers blues vamps amid post-bop swells to frame Williams' haunted, grainy vocal as she sings: "You couldn't cry if you wanted to/Even your thoughts are dust," before erupting in a post-Coltrane solo with Frisell climbing behind him. The title track, with its skittering rhythms, wavelike pedal steel passes, and matched solos by Frisell and Lloyd, is a bluesy exercise in improvisation. The arrangement in Williams' "Ventura," (that appeared on West), remains startlingly close to that of the original, but Lloyd's soulful phrasing undergirds her singing with a particularly Southern grace. The inclusion of the standard "Ballad of the Sad Young Men" feels like an outlier. It's a skeletal, impressionistic ballad that lacks an anchoring center, it simply hovers and floats. Not so with the singer's raggedy gospel in "We've Come Too Far to Turn Around," where the weariness in the lyric meets the band's ability to braid Williams' voice with an emotional color palette that matches her own. The 11-plus-minute reading of her "Unsuffer Me" is the perfect meld of rock, blues, and modern post-bop jazz as both guitarists engage one another and Lloyd, who serves as the bridge between them and the singer with squeals, blurts, and flutters with his moaning horn. "Monk's Mood" is lovely, but only because of Lloyd's playing. The closing Hendrix cover is presented as a country-gospel meditation on love and eternity. Williams treats the tune as if it were her own; Frisell and Leisz surround her in soft, luxuriant textures as Lloyd accompanies her in a kind of spacy, hooky duet. Interestingly, the uneven moments on Vanished Gardens have more to do with the Marvels' reticence on the standards. Otherwise, the pairing of this band with Williams sounds natural, effortless, and holistic. There's definitely room for a sequel.

Product Details

Release Date: 06/29/2018
Label: Blue Note Records
UPC: 0602567588481
catalogNumber: 002843502
Rank: 29419

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Charles Lloyd   Primary Artist,Flute,Alto Flute,Tenor Saxophone,Vocals,Group Member
Lucinda Williams   Vocals,Group Member
Bill Frisell   Guitar,Group Member
Greg Leisz   Dobro,Group Member
Reuben Rogers   Bass,Group Member
Eric Harland   Drums,Group Member

Technical Credits

Lucinda Williams   Composer
Charles Lloyd   Composer,Producer
Joe Harley   Poetry
Jimi Hendrix   Composer
Thelonious Monk   Composer
Don Was   Producer
Tommy Wolf   Composer
Dorothy Darr   Producer
Michael C. Ross   Engineer
Fran Landesman   Composer
Paul Moore   Layout

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