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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf

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Hagar's Song

ECM 372 4550



1. Pretty Girl
2. Mood Indigo
3. Bess, You Is My Woman Now
4. All About Ronnie
5. Pictogram
6. You've Changed
7. Hagar Suite: I. Journey Up River
8. II. Dreams Of White Bluff
9. III. Alone
10. IV. Bolivar Blues
11. V. Hagar's Lullaby
12. Rosetta
13. I Shall Be Released
14. God Only Knows

Charles Lloyd - Tenor sax, alto sax, bass flute, alto flute
Jason Moran - Piano, tambourine


I first saw Charles Lloyd in the 1960s, and he was fairly hypnotising then, heading a quartet which included Keith Jarrett and Jack DeJohnette. This new album also has a mesmeric quality, mainly created by Lloyd's distinctively warm, woollen tone and both musicians' gentle wandering around the tunes they have chosen. Both men improvise freely but they keep the melodies in mind and continually return to them.

Jason Moran's piano accompaniment is full and flowing, although the trills he uses are inappropriate to back part of Lloyd's Pretty Girl (better known as Star Crossed Lovers from the Ellingtonian Such Sweet Thunder suite). Lloyd's sound is often mournful, which contrasts with Moran's more buoyant style. Moran introduces Mood Indigo with optimism, which rubs off on Lloyd.

The Hagar Suite is dedicated to Lloyd's great-great-grandmother, who was forced into slavery at the age of ten. Charles wrote this, as well as All About Ronnie (which has echoes of I Loves You, Porgy) and Pictogram (which sounds like free improv). For two movements of the Hagar Suite (Journey Up River and Alone), Charles plays flute, which conveys the loneliness that the ten-year-old Hagar must have felt.

The remaining tunes are jazz and pop standards, including Bob Dylan's I Shall Be Released and Brian Wilson's God Only Knows. Listeners may not expect a song by the extrovert Beach Boys but Lloyd worked with that group in the 1970s, and he interprets God Only Knows with suitable sincerity. You've Changed is another example of Charles Lloyd's plaintive mood.

This album is low-key for most of its 69 minutes but it is well suited to meditative listening and you may well find it moving.

Tony Augarde

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