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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Charles Lloyd Quartet - Rabo de Nube (ECM, 2008) ***

Charles Lloyd is one of those musicians who totally threw me off balance when I saw him perform with his Sangam trio some years ago, with Zakir Hussain on tabla and Eric Harland on drums. What they brought was absolutely fantastic, as was the album with the same name. So is Lloyd's duet album with Billy Higgins, "Which Way Is East" (and of course Forest Flower, but that's another story). Most of his other albums were of the kind that you appreciate for their accessible emotionalism and great execution, but almost too sweet and too polished. The same impression strikes me with this live album. Again, the musicians are great : Jason Moran on piano, Eric Harland on drums and Ruben Rogers on bass. Yet the adventure is gone. Tracks such as "Migration Of The Spirit" are soft mainstream tracks, on "Booker's Garden", even Latin rhythmic influences come up to support his playing of the flute, "Ramanujan" goes even more into world music territory when he picks up his taragato, but a mere shadow of the music on Sangam. On the long "Promethius" the whole band can demonstrate their skills, and they do it well too, but the whole thing never really gets off the ground, never strikes a chord, does not create a novel listening experience. It's all a little bit too mellow for me. "Rabo De Nube" literally means "tail of the cloud" in Spanish, a poetic concept, yet in South American Spanish it means "tornado", as it was meant in the original song by Silvio Rodriguez. I think here it means the former, I wish it was more of the latter.