Charles Lloyd’s Wild Man Dance Suite

Posted on in Art + Soul by Roy Strassman

SFJAZZ Center, April 23

Charles Lloyd’s new WMDS band is the exciting and perhaps groundbreaking next incarnation of his extant New Quartet. Making its West Coast premiere, the redoubtable Wild Man quartet has been expanded to include Miklos Lukacs on Hungarian cimbalom (concert hammer dulcimer) and Sokratis Sinopoulos on Greek lyra (small upright viol).

Bereted and hiply attired as a postmodern beatnik, the 77-year-old Lloyd began by launching into a slow, minimalist, multi-vectored blues groove. Even the orchestration of this polyphonic idea was dazzling and viscerally impactful. The single uninterrupted set moved from motif to motif, the totality of which made up the suite. Why it was billed as a “dance suite” remains a mystery—there was nothing dance-y about it. During a short, danceable encore, Lloyd adroitly declaimed a high-speed rap poem that called on the need for meditation to obtain peace and the possibility of happiness.

Lloyd is an obvious disciple of John Coltrane, both in his tone and phrasing—sometimes even extracting quotations from Trane’s musical liturgy. On tenor, Lloyd’s tone sounds somewhat foggy, like it was passing through a wall. His fingering sounds like Coltrane at 7:00 on a cold morning—stiff (for Trane, that is). This is not to diminish either Lloyd’s artistry or his music. Rather, it is a high compliment that he—or anyone else—is able to ascend to even the foot of the Coltrane altar. All told, it was one fine concert.


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