by Josef Woodard
A STORY IN CIRCLES: Lately, the Lobero Theatre
marquee has hosted the familiar, lyrically brooding mug of Charles
Lloyd, as it has many times before. For decades, Santa Barbara has
been home to Lloyd, the internationally known tenor saxist whose
stock has risen and fallen in critical and commercial circles,
sometimes radically. He travels the world with his bands, usually
accompanied by one of the finer pianists on the scene at a given
moment (i.e. Keith Jarrett, Michel Pettrucciani, Bobo Stenson, Brad
Mehldau, and currently, Geri Allen).
This time around, though, Lloyd’s Friday night homecoming Lobero
gig carries special meaning as one of the more “Lobero-centric”
concerts in memory. For one thing, this will be the first time
he’ll have played here since recording his current CD, Sangam, in
this hall in 2004. It’s actually not the first time a jazz artist
has recorded in the Lobero — the late pianist Horace Tapscott was
recorded here by Thom Albach for the Nimbus label. But Lloyd’s
album, a free-spirited and East-meets-West conglomeration with
drummers Zakir Hussain and Eric Harland (also in his quartet), is
the first Lobero-based live album for a major label, ECM.
On a more historical note, the Lobero was also the site, 25
years ago, of Lloyd’s emergence from an infamous hermitage. Lloyd’s
strange story is often told, especially in this town, but the
nutshell version of Lloyd’s whirlwind career involved reaching
unprecedented heights of acclaim in the late ’60s, in terms of
sales and appeal outside of the jazz realm (he opened for rock acts
at the Fillmore West and Earl Warren Showgrounds, for instance).
Lloyd’s million-selling Forest Flower was recorded live at the
Monterey Jazz Festival 40 years ago, a milestone that his Monterey
appearance this Saturday commemorates.
By 1970, Lloyd had had enough of the bright lights, retreating
to hideaways in Big Sur and Santa Barbara to pursue his spiritual
(Vedantic) path and lick personal wounds. After a decade of
puttering and avoiding celebrity, young French piano wizard
Pettrucciani literally sought out the recluse in Big Sur and
inspired Lloyd to return to musical action. It was then that he
first played at the Lobero, a most accommodating room for the
intimate demands of acoustic jazz. Suffice to say, there should be
plenty of harmonic, rhythmic, and historic convergences in the
house on Friday. THINKING FOLKS’ GARDEN PARTY:
Tierney Sutton, the wondrous workhorse jazz vocalist, has made
plenty of friends and fans in Santa Barbara in the past two years,
since she started playing here properly (not including her hotel
gigging for rude patrons before her international career began,
around 2000). She has played the Lobero and made juicy cameos with
Chris Walden’s Big Band at SOhO. The impresario gods have decreed
it’s time we heard Sutton in a garden party, and what better garden
than Lotusland, the surreally lavish estate of Madame Ganna Walska
and one of the more mesmerizing properties in town.
In a Lotusland benefit, Sutton and band perform this Sunday at 3
p.m.; the grounds will open an hour early. The great thing about
Sutton is that her mastery of tone and phrasing appeals to a broad
cross-section of listeners, from the straight-ahead crowd
hypnotized by show tunes to music-heads keen on chops.
GUITARIST WITH HEAD DOWN: Santa Barbara rarely
gets two significant jazz events on the same date, but such is the
case next Wednesday. The rhythmically charged Mickey Hart-led
project Planet Drum takes over the Lobero, but meanwhile, the
impressive, underrated jazz guitarist Ben Monder plays with his
trio at Center Stage Theater, fresh off a show in Monterey.
Monder’s résumé includes work with Maria Schneider, Lee Konitz, and
Paul Motian, and his sound mixes dark introspection and nimble
TO-DOINGS: Got a free weekend and a hankering
to check out one of America’s greatest and oldest jazz festivals?
Get thee to the 49th annual Monterey Jazz Festival. For more info,
visit montereyjazzfestival.org. (Got e? firstname.lastname@example.org.)