Manhattan Stories from 2xHD and Resonance Records captures the always-extraordinary saxophonist and flutist Charles Lloyd in 1965. Leading a remarkable and previously unreleased quartet featuring three jazz giants: guitarist Gábor Szabó, bassist Ron Carter and drummer Pete La Roca.
In 1965, when these tracks were recorded at the now-defunct venues Judson Hall, Lloyd was fresh from his stint with drummer and bandleader Chico Hamilton, where he’d first crossed paths with Szabó. Lloyd already had two albums to his name. Within a year he would form his groundbreaking quartet with Keith Jarrett, Cecil McBee, and Jack DeJohnette.
Szabó himself was on the verge of cementing his name in the jazz canon, starting his acclaimed run of Impulse! releases the next year. Carter was midway through his stint with the second great Miles Davis quintet, while La Roca had already worked with a host of names from the music’s pantheon, including John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, Bill Evans, and Joe Henderson.
“It was a specific time and place,” Lloyd told Manhattan Stories annotator Don Heckman. “We all felt like the boundaries were being dissolved and we could do or try anything. This is a music of freedom and wonder — we were young and on the move.”
Charles Lloyd’s status as one of the iconic figures of jazz has been thoroughly established for five decades. His recordings from the ‘60s – especially releases such as Of Course, Of Course, Dream Weaver and Forest Flower – introduced a stunning, new jazz saxophone talent at a time when innovative ideas were rapidly being triggered by the likes of John Coltrane, Ornette Coleman, and Eric Dolphy. But Lloyd had a voice of his own, one that blended rich, contemplative improvising with an irresistible flow of dynamic rhythms. No wonder Down Beat selected Lloyd as Jazz Artist of the Year in 1967.
Charles Lloyd – Saxophone and Flute
Gábor Szabó – Guitar
Ron Carter – Bass
Pete La Roca – Drums
Total time: 00:42:46
|2xHD Mastering Engineer||
René Laflamme – Analog Tape to DXD Transfer
|Analog Recording Equipment||
Nagra T Recorder
|Original Recording Format|
Zev Feldman & Dorothy Darr
Goerge Klabin & Fran Gala
Judson Hall in New York City on September 3, 1965
|Release Date||June 23, 2021|
George Klabin and Zev Feldman of Resonance Records have done it again. They are due a special jazz Grammy for continuing to put out previously unreleased incredible live performances from jazz masters that have historical significance. Their issues are presented in excellent fidelity for live recordings. It keeps jazz collectors happy to have new music from legendary artists, most who have passed away.
Today we get the privilege to review a live set from 1965 from the Charles Lloyd Quartet, which are the only known recordings of this particular foursome. The album was recorded at Judson Hall on Sept 3, 1965. It was personally recorded by Resonance Records founder George Klabin.
There are only three tracks on the album, and none are less than eleven minutes long. Leaving the quartet members free rein to really stretch out. The album opens with “Sweet Georgia Bright” which has the most “out” playing by Charles. Pete Sims is locked firmly in the groove on his cymbals keeping pace with Lloyd as Ron Carter lays out a bottom layer for the group. A bit frenetic for my taste but a wild ride, nevertheless.
Early on Gabor enters the fray and his guitar fills are welcome as he plays in counterpoint to Charles, before having his own solo. Next, we have a gorgeous blues tune from Lloyd, “How Can I Tell You?” Szabo’s gently strummed guitar is a perfect match for Lloyd’s exploratory sax as Charles’ increases the intensity of his improvisation. The two seem to be having a conversation answering each other with their instruments. Ron Carter’s solo comes late in the tune and is extremely well upfront in the mix thanks to the editing and sound restoration of Klabin and Fran Gala. (The mastering for this set was done by the legendary Bernie Grundman.)
“Lady Gabor” closes out the album. Lloyd’s flute playing is superb He is like a pied piper leading his flock into a forest of exotic possibilities. Szabo’s guitar provides an Indian/gypsy flavor that is intoxicating.
Manhattan Stories is a welcome addition to Lloyd’s extensive discography. If you are a Charles Lloyd fan, this is a must-have purchase…
All About Jazz
Manhattan Stories is a trip back in time, a journey to a long gone and long-missed era. It’s a window into the great Charles Lloyd’s art at a period of transition. The show presented on this album was recorded at Judson Hall in September of 1965. It took place shortly after Lloyd left the employ of Cannonball Adderley and before he became a cross-over sensation.
The Judson Hall show, one part of the 1965 edition of Charlotte Moorman’s New York Festival of the Avant-Garde, is Lloyd at his finest. He plays like a man possessed during a lengthy “Sweet Georgia Bright,” a number which features some awe-inspiring exchanges and overlaps between his saxophone and Szabo’s brittle-toned guitar.
“How Can I Tell You?” is a tender musical expression with memorable solo work, but it doesn’t play out as expected. When La Roca’s drums are in full bloom they push against the dreamy nature of the piece.
The quartet finishes off with Szabo’s “Lady Gabor,” a mystery-laced number. The show only lasts a bit longer than forty minutes, but these men make every second count. And while it would be decades before Lloyd would take on the mantle of musical spirit guide on his ECM releases, traces of that artist-to-be can be found here, both during his saxophone cadenza toward the end of “How Can I Tell?” and through his flute wanderings on “Lady Gabor.”
The sound quality is remarkably good considering the circumstances of these recordings. No matter how you slice it, this is significant music that needs to be heard to fully appreciate the full scope of an important artist’s work. This is musical manna, not from heaven, but from the horn of Charles Lloyd.
Wall Street Journal
“Manhattan Stories” collects privately recorded concerts by the Charles Lloyd Quartet in 1965. At the time, Mr. Lloyd was an up-and-coming player in the jazz community. Following stints in bands led by drummer Chico Hamilton and saxophonist Cannonball Adderley, Mr. Lloyd showcased his own compositions on “Of Course, Of Course” (Columbia, 1965). Two members of his band for the recording, bassist Ron Carter and guitarist Gábor Szabó, perform on “Manhattan Stories”; drummer Pete La Roca rounds out the ensemble. These are the only known documents of this quartet Mr. Lloyd formed a new band in 1966 and recorded “Forest Flower: Live at Monterey” (Atlantic), which became one of the first jazz recordings to sell a million units.
The music on “Manhattan Stories” is limber and eclectic. It was recorded at Judson Hall in midtown Manhattan during Charlotte Moorman’s Annual Avant Garde Festival of New York. Mr. Carter’s deep bass grooves anchor the music, while the reedman and guitarist take probing solos. It is not hard to hear a connection between this band and similarly varied groups like Bigmouth, the band led by bassist Chris Lightcap.
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