Charles Lloyd, Arrows into Infinity, ECM, DVD/Blu-ray **** RECOMMENDED
A documentary portrait of the great saxophonist produced and directed by Charles Lloyd’s wife Dorothy Darr and by Jeffery Morse, it’s more than affectionate hommage. Packed full of insights, moving moments include when the Japanese Swing Journal magazine editor asks Lloyd about his influences and Lloyd smiles, and says Lester Young, and then we hear Prez playing the most beautiful, tender, version of ‘These Foolish Things’. Sounds simple but visually and aurally it’s dynamite. The section featuring Michel Petrucciani who made the pilgrimage to Big Sur is also very touching. There’s so much here: Robbie Robertson of The Band commenting on how Ornette Coleman and Charles are different offering a fascinating comment that Ornette was a rule breaker whereas Charles didn’t believe there were any rules!
There’s excellent footage of the great group with Jack DeJohnette, Cecil McBee, and Keith Jarrett, Jarrett sounding so inspired. Interviewees besides Robertson include Michael Cuscuna, Herbie Hancock, Jason Moran, and Don Was. We see Charles playing pool with Ornette, live with his current quartet, and playing outdoors years back in the countryside with Jack DeJohnette and in so many other situations including in the former Soviet Union where the man from Memphis became a hero.
Lloyd talks movingly about Billy Higgins and their separate sense of spirituality, his rooted in India, Higgins’ in Islam (“the only thing he asked me was which way is east?” Lloyd quips). The footage with tabla master Zakir Hussain and current Lloyd quartet drummer Eric Harland also connects, Harland getting quite emotional when he talks about the sheer creativity involved in playing with the pair. The river continues to run free.
Released on 28 July in UK/Ireland
Charles Lloyd top, and, above, shooting pool with Ornette Coleman in 2011. Photo: Dorothy Darr