A funny thing happened on the way to jazz vet Charles Lloyd’s first live streaming concert in the pandemic era on Saturday, linked to the Healdsburg Jazz Festival. An unexpected glut of interest resulted in a technical glitch, and the intended audience, eager to catch this elder jazz statesman (and longtime Santa Barbara resident) overloaded the circuits, suffering through the dreaded “Internal Server Error” slap down. The show, from the Paul Mauder Gallery, was delayed by a half hour—as outgoing festival honcho Jessica Felix declared, a “happy problem.”
The end result was a felicitous cultural happening, as Lloyd teamed up with longtime ally, tabla virtuoso Zakir Hussain and newly-minted ally, young guitar wizard Julian Lage, launching a special new east-meets-west-meets-Eastern European trio entity. Lage, who played with Lloyd at a milestone 80th-birthday Lobero Theatre show in 2019 (recorded live for the Blue Note release 8: Kindred Spirits (Live from the Lobero), is one of jazz’s prime chameleons of note, having flexed his ever-curious musicality with John Zorn, Gary Burton, in a quartet with Nels Cline and Santa Barbara-bred drum master Tom Rainey, and as leader. Here, Lage was supremely sensitized, playing his blonde Telecaster (sans effects), and often echoing the late Hungarian Gabor Szabo, a tight ally of Lloyd’s in the 1960s.
Goateed, shaded, bereted and standing in front of a pointillist-abstract painting, Lloyd, 82, was in enlivened, enlightened form, wielding flute, tárogató and his primary ax, the tenor sax (and a dollop of maracas). Hussain, who plays in Lloyd’s trio Sangam (which recorded its live 2006 ECM album at the Lobero), was expectedly brilliant, on tabla—no surprise—but also as sublime vocalist. Lloyd himself prevailed, mightily, saying nary a word during the performance but speaking volumes through his instruments. Live, streamed, and otherwise, it’s great to check back in with Santa Barbara’s jazz luminary.
Head’s up: Lloyd recently performed a pre-taped show with pianist Gerald Clayton and guitarist Anthony Wilson at the Lobero, part of a series of video productions by Byl Carruthers, broadcasting on October 23.
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