Sunday, March 22, 2015

Charles Lloyd graces the stage at the Vanguard

                  After dropping off Emma Tess and her college mate at the Guggenheim I drove down the village.   It was my first trip to the Village Vanguard.  For a fan of jazz the mere suggestion is an insult to the city as well as the national treasure. Yet, I have seen my share of jazz concerts and a few in the city stand out, Miles Davis at Indigo Blue, Betty Carter at the Bottom Line, and McCoy Tyner with Ravi Coltrane at Lincoln Center.  Let’s add the Ron Carter’s 80th birthday celebration at Carnegie Hall which included the living members of the Miles David Quintet Herbie Hancock and Carter and…Wayne Shorter on saxophone who I saw perform with his quartet, Brian Blade on drums at Lincoln Center.  Last point, saw Blade with Pharaoh Sanders at Birdland and had the honor of interviewing Mr. Sanders between sets.

                Last week, the Village Vanguard celebrated its 80th anniversary.  Before the show started Lorraine Gordon, Max Gordon’s widow (the original proprietor & no relation to me) sat in the back and spoke loudly, so loudly in fact most of the establishment was turning their heads to see who was making a scene.  “I wouldn’t recognize him if I saw him.  Oh, look everyone is looking at me, they can hear me.”  Who is that?  The owner.  The Vanguard as it is commonly known is an intimate club.  Anyone can hear anyone if they project their voice.  After waiting outside for a good twenty minutes in the frigid March wind, eventually the line moved which wrapped itself around the block, moved. I passed through a narrow and short red door and filed with the rest of the line down steep steps.  I could feel the rumbling of a subway under my feet.  I checked in and was taken to a seat where I would share a table and get to know who my neighbor was.  There is a one drink minimum and a good tip as per the web site is a dollar or two per a drink.  I felt sorry for the usher since he had to maneuver in the close quarters.  His buttocks brushed against elbows and his gentle excuse me… was whispered.  Before I go on, God bless Lorraine Gordon who is 92 was there and ready to see Charles Lloyd.  My sincere gratitude - for keeping the Vanguard open...  This is the place where most of the icons of jazz took the stage and she’s keeping more coming back…

              The lights dimmed, the sold out room clapped and cheered as Charles Lloyd, dressed in a long grey coat, wearing a small hat, darkened glasses and a scarf, took the stage.  He pressed his hands together and warmly bowed to the audience as well as to his band.  Jason Moran who coordinated six nights to celebrate the Vanguard’s anniversary, introduced Charles Lloyd and declared this was a dream to share the stage with Charles Lloyd at the Vanguard.  My seat was close to the stage.  Mr. Lloyd played his horn with a tilt and blew with precision, pushing the chords with sharp accuracy.  I was blown away.   I’m a late adoring fan of his music as well as the man.  I have asked if I can interview him for this blog and perhaps there will be a segment when/if provided I am given the opportunity.  His spirituality flows through his music, the tone, his style… resonates…he is a pure master displaying his unique form.  There is some semblance of free jazz and yet his music and style is distinct.  In addition to the sax, he played the flute as well as another instrument called the tarogato.  His band played the songs like a fluid machine.  Each distinct song flowed from one song to the next like a brook of water tumbling over smooth stones.  On bass, the accomplished Reuben Rogers and on drums the ever present stick of precision Eric Harland and of course the master Jason Moran on the piano.  Thank you Charles Lloyd for sharing the set of songs from the first gig: 1) Part 5 Rumination 2) Nu Blues, 3)Abide with me 4)Requiem 5) Little Peace 6) Ramanujan 7) Hymme to the Mother 8)Dance. 

              Charles Lloyd is playing at the NEA Jazz Masters at Lincoln Center on April 20.  His US premier of his composition Wild Man Dance Suite will be performed at the Metropolitan on Saturday April 18 and if you’re patient he plays in our area again next January at Lincoln Center. 

The picture in the Vanguard is copied from the NY Times article on the show...

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