Charles Lloyd


Surrounded by legendary jazz musicians his entire life, Charles Lloyd has made some truly great recordings for ECM and Blue Note

(Photo: Dorothy Darr)
(Photo: Dorothy Darr)

Lloyd, Charles (b. 15th March 1968, Memphis). Father and Jimmie Lunceford were college roommates; Mother ran boarding house and accommodated touring jazz musicians who could not stay in segregated Memphis hotels; early exposure to jazz and encouraged in his musical ambition by Duke Ellington, Billy Strayhorn, Lionel Hampton, Johnny Hodges early mentor, all guests in his mother’s home as a youngster; high school friends included Booker Little, Harold Mabern, Frank Strozier, George Coleman, Louis Smith; close friends with pianist Phineas Newborn, a mentor, and his brother Clavin (g) who contributed towards his musical education; played with B.B.King, Little Milton, Bobby “Blue” Bland, Howlin’ Wolf, Big Mama Thornton, Roosevelt Sykes, Junior Parker Johnny Ace, Hank Crawford.

Moved to Los Angeles to major in composition at the University of Southern California; established a circle of musical friends that included Billy Higgins, Don Cherry, Scott La Faro, Ornette Coleman, Eric Dolphy, Buddy Collette, Harold Land and Gerald Wilson in whose big band he played; on graduation 1960 had stable job teaching in a school in LA; Eric Dolphy recommended Lloyd as musical director of Chico Hamilton group so left for New York; principal arranger for Hamilton 1961-4; 1964 toured and recorded with Cannonball Adderley’s group; returned to New York, Discovery! (1964); 1965 formed own band with Gabor Szabo, Manhattan Stories (1965), Of Course, Of Course (1965); 1966 formed quartet with Keith Jarrett (p), Cecil McBee (b), Jack DeJohnette (d).


Highly successful appearance at the Monterey Jazz Festival and best selling album of the event Forest Flower (1966) ensured the groups success; other successful albums followed such as Charles Lloyd in Europe (1966), The Flowering (1966), Journey Within (1967); 1967 first jazz musicians to be invited by Russian People’s group to tour Soviet Union Charles Lloyd in the Soviet Union (1967); 1967 first jazz musicians to play Fillmore West opening for groups like Grateful Dead, Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Big Brother and the Holding Company; recorded Love-In (1967); 1968 Far East tour for US State Department; 1970 disbanded and returned to West Coast to recover from drug addiction; 1970-1974 doctoral work at Cal Tech where he was artist in residence 1972-3; became friendly with Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson and Mike Love; appeared on Beach Boys albums Surf’s Up (1971), Holland (1973) and toured with the group.


Mid-1970s poetry and jazz readings with Allen Ginsberg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Jack Kerouac; 1982 sought out in his home in Big Sur by French pianist Michel Petrucciani; formed quartet with Petrucciani toured West Coast to huge success appeared at the Montreux Jazz Festival, Montreux 82 (1982); tours internationally, signed with Blue Note records A Night In Copenhagen (1985), One Night With Blue Note Vol. 4 (1985); 1986 time-out to recover from serious operation; begins association with ECM with new quartet including Bobo Stenson (p) that produces some of the finest recordings of his career: Fish Out of Water (1989), Notes from Big Sur (1992), The Call (1993), All My Relations (1994), Canto (1996); 2008 formed New Quartet with Jason Moran (p), Reuben Rogers (b), Eric Harland (d) Rabo De Nube (2008), Mirror (2010); in 2015 returned to the Blue Note label Wild Man Dance (2015), with new band The Marvels inc. Bill Frisell (g) I Long to See You (2016); with New Quartet Passin Thru’ (2017), with The Marvels the Vanished Gardens (2018).

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