Charles Lloyd, who appears at the Lensic Performing Arts Center on Tuesday, Nov. 19, with a group that includes the guitarist Bill Frisell, is quick to remind you that he’s worked with guitarists before. Hungarian-born guitarist Gábor Szabó toured with Lloyd’s band during the 1960s, and John Abercrombie is heard on a handful of Lloyd’s ECM recordings beginning in 2000 (most notably Lift Every Voice). But eclectic, electric guitarist Frisell seems something else again, a purveyor of electronic effects and back-road psychedelica to contrast with Lloyd’s usual piano-based combos. “This meeting with Frisell was fated to be,” the saxophonist declared in a call from his home near Santa Barbara. “We’ve been circling around each other for a long time. He’s so free and has so many bright moments; the stuff hits me like I can’t explain. It gets the teenager in me back kickin’ in the stall.” The two played together at the Montreal International Jazz Festival last summer, where Lloyd was awarded the fest’s annual Miles Davis Award for his work. They also played Chicago and Detroit and will appear at UCLA’s Royce Hall ahead of the Santa Fe appearance. “Frisell’s on another level,” Lloyd said. “He’s simple in his purity, and he has a deep reverence for the shoulders of the greats we all stand on. We can get the magic going. He’s the perfect foil, he’s got an orchestra in his head, he can get all those different colors going. With him, we can go on the wild side of the wakefulness sutras.”
A conversation with Lloyd, who turned 75 this year, transcends time and space. Stories spin inside of stories. Memories swirl together like ingredients in a soup. He speaks in images, often having to do with cooking, and he gives a playful laugh when he mixes metaphors, as he frequently does. His stories are populated by many of the great names of jazz. A sentence can start out in his boyhood home of Memphis and then travel to Los Angeles and New York. He will talk about the wonder of walking Black Mesa near San Ildefonso Pueblo in Northern New Mexico and the mountains above Big Sur, California. Spiritual matters surface in unexpected places and suddenly contrast with the reality of a musical life. The one thing he won’t talk about? “Turning 75? No, that’s nothing to me. I’m in the present, I’m still a presence, younger than springtime and getting to the elixir. The arts do something for the soul and I’ve always been inspired by the music, this indigenous art form, it always did something to me, kept me alive. So I don’t need to comment on longevity.”
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