How’s this for a plum assignment: photograph the Charles Lloyd Quartet in concert at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco. Needless to say the place was packed and the concert was phenomenal. Alas, they wouldn’t let photographers up on the stage. No flash, no tripod allowed. And the lights were as low as you can go. I was able to get these shots thanks to a high ISO setting (3200) on a Nikon D300s. (Will somebody lend me a FAST 300mm lens?)
Man this cat can blow! And not just with his sax, either. During an encore Lloyd made magic with the flute on Booker’s Garden. It hypnotized the house. That cut, by the way, is on the album Rabe de Nube (Tail of a Cloud) from ECM and I urge you to grab it here on Amazon—it’s pure joy.
At one point he even took over the piano and treated us to another instrument–his voice—as he intoned some Buddhist wisdom. Clearly his music is all about connecting to people.
At 70, Charles Lloyd is at the top of his game…an ageless angel, arching and kicking, hitting sweet spots that had me soaring. This was jazz heaven, full of surprises and highs and transcendent sounds. The concert had so many memorable moments they’re still echoing as I write this. Reuben Rogers performed one of the longest most inspired bass riffs I’ve ever heard. Jason Moran’s piano segued seamlessly from cool to hot to classical improv. There was a wonderful pas de deux between Moran and drummer Eric Harland. They had me turning my head side to side, like watching a tennis match.
The audience was not simply connected to the sound, but totally plugged in for two blissful hours.
Nothing beats jazz in San Francisco.
CLICK HERE for more info on the SF Jazz Spring Season.