Trio Of Trios
These three sets from tenor great Charles Lloyd were released separately throughout 2022 and finally compiled into Trio of Trios, each with a distinctly different lineup involving guitar. The first, Sacred Thread with Julian Lage and tabla legend Zakir Hussain, is open and spacious, with the Hindustani flavor of Hussain’s tabla and frequent vocalizing as well. Lloyd plays mainly tenor sax but also sumptuous alto flute on “Kuti” and “Nachekita’s Lament,” as well as alto sax on the brief “Saraswati.” (He yields the floor to Lage and Hussain entirely on “Guman.”) Between Hussain’s robust rhythm, Lage’s twangy tone and risk-taking improvisational flair, and Lloyd’s spirit-rich and bluesy melodicism, the lineup proves inspired. The four tracks with guitarist Anthony Wilson and pianist Gerald Clayton (album title: Ocean) are thicker in harmonic texture and more explicitly jazz-oriented overall, with Wilson’s crisp and lyrical archtop guitar as the key ingredient. Lloyd opts for alto sax on the playful “Hagar of the Inuits” and alto flute on the breezily modern “Jaramillo Blues.” The tone shifts once more on the last of the three sets, Chapel, with Bill Frisell and his frequent duo and trio partner, bassist Thomas Morgan. It begins with Billy Strayhorn’s “Blood Count,” forever associated with the swooping, yearning sound of Johnny Hodges’ alto in the Duke Ellington band, a major Lloyd influence. Like “Desolation Sound,” “Tales of Rumi,” and “The Blessing” from the Lage/Hussain session, several tunes from the Frisell/Morgan set are drawn from elsewhere in Lloyd’s deep catalog. “Song My Lady Sings” stretches back to his late-’60s Atlantic period, and what a treat to hear Frisell and Morgan play the gentle waltz as a duo for nearly the first four minutes. “Ay Amor,” by the late Cuban singer-songwriter Bola de Nieve (“snowball”), was first heard on Tone Poem with Lloyd’s group The Marvels (of which Frisell is a member). Lloyd croons it on tenor much like a singer would, while Frisell conjures just the right vibe—call it Motown country with a Cuban twist.