JAZZ LEGEND CHARLES LLOYD CELEBRATES HIS 80th BIRTHDAY IN 2018 WITH SPECIAL CONCERTS, FESTIVAL PERFORMANCES & A NEW ALBUM
January 24 2018
Jazz legend Charles Lloyd marks his 80th birthday on March 15, and will celebrate the milestone throughout 2018 with special concerts, residencies, festival performances, and the release of a new album for Blue Note Records this summer. The NEA Jazz Master enters his ninth decade at a creative peak in what now stands as a mountainous and formidable career, continuing his lifelong artistic journey to explore the spiritual realms of wonder and beauty.
- Charles Lloyd & The Marvels Tour & New Album: The Marvels kick off the year this Friday January 26 with a concert at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, with further tour stops in Easton, Pennsylvania (January 27), Austin (February 1), and Houston (February 14), as well as an appearance aboard the Blue Note at Sea cruise (January 30). The Marvels are Lloyd’s newest band, a guitar-driven group featuring Bill Frisell, Greg Leisz, Reuben Rogers, and Eric Harland, who will release their 2nd Blue Note album in June featuring special guest Lucinda Williams. Lloyd & Williams previously released the single “Masters of War” on Inauguration Day 2017.
- 80th Birthday Residency at The Dakota: Lloyd takes up residency at The Dakota in Minneapolis in March to present three different bands over the course of four nights: Sangam featuring Zakir Hussain and Harland (March 8), The Marvels plus special guest Lucinda Williams (March 9-10), and his New Quartet with Jason Moran, Rogers, and Harland (March 11).
- Hometown Birthday Concert in Santa Barbara: Charles Lloyd & Friends present a special birthday concert on March 15 at the Lobero Theater in Lloyd’s hometown of Santa Barbara, California featuring Rogers, Harland, Gerald Clayton, Julian Lage, and special guest Booker T. Jones.
- 2018 Festival Appearances: Lloyd will make a series of festival appearances throughout the year including a performance by The Marvels with special guest Lucinda Williams at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival (April 28), and Charles Lloyd & Friends at the Healdsburg Jazz Festival (June 3) and Playboy Jazz Festival (June 9). Lloyd has been named the Artist-In-Residence at this year’s Newport Jazz Festival where he will present Sangam (August 3), the New Quartet (August 4), and Charles Lloyd & Friends (August 5). More festival appearances will be announced soon.
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For nearly 60 years saxophonist Charles Lloyd has loomed large over the music world with both his presence and his occasional absence. Lloyd was born in in 1938 in Memphis, Tennessee, where he apprenticed with jazz and blues legends including Phineas Newborn, Howlin’ Wolf, and B.B. King. While attending the University of Southern California in the late-1950s, Lloyd performed with prominent artists on the Los Angeles jazz scene including Ornette Coleman, Eric Dolphy, Charlie Haden, Billy Higgins, and Gerald Wilson. In 1960, Lloyd became the music director in the Chico Hamilton Quintet, and later joined the Cannonball Adderley Sextet for a two-year stint before leaving to focus on his own career as a leader.
Lloyd signed with Columbia and released his debut album Discovery! in 1964. In 1965 he formed his first great Quartet with a young pianist named Keith Jarrett along with bassist Cecil McBee and drummer Jack DeJohnette. The Quartet’s first album Dream Weaver for Atlantic was followed by Forest Flower: Live at Monterey in 1967, a wildly successful album that became one of the first million-sellers in jazz and catapulted Lloyd to international fame.
The Quartet went on to perform at rock festivals and venues like the Fillmore in San Francisco where they co-headlined bills with Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin, while Lloyd also collaborated with the likes of the Beach Boys, Grateful Dead, and The Doors. Then at the peak of his popularity he unexpectedly and voluntarily decided to leave the music world and disappeared to a Big Sur retreat for most of the 1970s. He stopped touring and would play saxophone for the trees and occasionally collaborate with poets and authors like Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Ken Kesey.
Lloyd re-emerged briefly in the early 1980s to help the French pianist Michel Petrucciani begin his career, releasing a single album for Blue Note featuring Petrucciani (A Night In Copenhagen) before disappearing again until 1989 when he began a fruitful 25-year relationship with ECM Records. Lloyd’s 16 albums for ECM re-established the saxophonist as one of the leading creative voices in jazz, and found him collaborating with artists including Bobo Stenson, John Abercrombie, Billy Higgins, Brad Mehldau, Geri Allen, and Zakir Hussain, and forming his acclaimed New Quartet with Jason Moran, Reuben Rogers, and Eric Harland.
When Don Was became head of Blue Note in 2011, he invited Lloyd to record for the label. Lloyd ultimately accepted the invitation, with a mission in mind: “I want to stretch my wings wider and find new thermals to soar on. It is all a continuation of my search and service in sound.”
Lloyd’s 2015 Blue Note release Wild Man Dance was an album-length suite composed for a unique group comprised of pianist Gerald Clayton, bassist Joe Sanders, drummer Gerald Cleaver, Greek lyra virtuoso Sokratis Sinopoulos, and Hungarian cimbalom maestro Miklós Lukács. For his 2016 album I Long to See You, Lloyd formed a new band called The Marvels featuring guitarist Bill Frisell and pedal steel guitarist Greg Leisz along with Rogers and Harland. In 2017, Lloyd released Passin’ Thru, a passionate live recording that marked the 10th anniversary of the New Quartet and prompted the Los Angeles Times to declare him “an artist with a focus still firmly fixed forward. At 79 years old, Lloyd sounds as if he’s just getting started.”
Lloyd’s life story was powerfully told in the 2014 documentary Arrows Into Infinity. He was named an NEA Jazz Master in 2015, and received an honorary Doctor of Music degree from Berklee College of Music. In 2016, Lloyd was inducted into the Memphis Music Hall of Fame, and The Atlantic published the profile “The Re-Flowering: Charles Lloyd's Second Golden Age,” proffering that “The jazz saxophonist went from 1960s pop stardom to years of self-imposed exile, but he’s now producing some of the best music of his career.”