Saxophonist, flutist, composer, and jazz mystic Charles Lloyd's latest Blue Note offering Passin’ Thru is a passionate live recording that marks the 10th anniversary of his acclaimed and enduring New Quartet featuring pianist Jason Moran, bassist Reuben Rogers, and drummer Eric Harland, a simpatico unit that teems with intuition, contemplation and playfulness. The album is a dynamic seven-song collection of Lloyd compositions old and new.
Lloyd formed his first quartet in 1965 featuring soon-to-be jazz stars pianist Keith Jarrett, bassist Cecil McBee and drummer Jack DeJohnette. Throughout his career he has returned to the quartet format, but he considers his New Quartet formed a decade ago “a landmark group nonpareil.” He elaborates: “It’s a small planet, and we are just passing through on our journey to One. Every now and then there are important intersections. This quartet with Jason, Reuben and Eric coalesced very organically in April 2007. From the notes of our first concert, I knew that it was a magical formation.”
In the summer of 2016, Lloyd reconvened the New Quartet for their first extended tour in several years. In fact, Passin’ Thru opens with the very first song performed on that tour: “Dream Weaver” recorded at the Montreux Jazz Festival on June 30 (the song was originally recorded on his first quartet’s 1966 debut album of the same name). The remaining six pieces were drawn from the band’s sublime performance at The Lensic in Santa Fe, New Mexico on July 29. Lloyd dedicated that concert, as well as this album, to the memory of his dear departed friend Judith McBean (the closing piece “Shiva Dreams” was “a prayer and meditation for her.”)
When asked why he chose to reexamine songs from his past on Passin’ Thru, Lloyd responds, “‘Passin’ Thru’ and ‘Dream Weaver’ are among my many children. They left home and came back. I left home and came back. When we visit with each other we find we have more stories to tell. As they have matured, I have too. When I go out now, I bring many more years of experience that I did not have as an idealistic young man.”
Lloyd marvels at how the New Quartet members “have spread their wings in different ways.” However, he adds, “when we come together as a unit, we find the music and love has only grown deeper. The bond of our shared experiences on and off the stage informs and expands the music. A span of 10 years covers a lot of territory, but in the time frame of the Universe, it is a mere nanosecond.”