Ninety minutes of jazz, no breaks between songs, a journey, a roller-coaster ride, an exploration of the psyche, a thumbnail history of jazz, an inventory of human emotions, an endless doodle—pick your cliché. Never boring, often poignant, tirelessly lyrical, though occasionally irritating, especially near the end of the set, when I was dying for the band to come to the end of a cadenza, bring a number to its conclusion, wrap it up—and start a new one.
I first heard Charles Lloyd at the Guthrie in 1968. I wasn't ready for him then, couldn't get my bearings. A young man named Keith Jarrett was at the keyboard that night. Lloyd has had a long string of distinguished band-mates since then, including Michel Petrucciani, Bobo Stenson, Brad Mehldau, and Jason Moran. His current pianist, Gerald Clayton, is right at home in such company.
Before the set Lloyd said, "I never play clubs anymore. People are eating dinner, cash resister ringing..." He looked around, where many people were eating dinner. Then he added, "...but Lowell [Dakota owner Lowell Pickett], he really digs the music. I'd follow him anywhere." Then he added in a kindly voice, "Don't worry, go ahead and enjoy your chittlins."
In response to the unending applause after the set, Lloyd came back on stage and delivered a rambling peroration touching on music, kindliness, barbeque sauce on corn-on-the-cob, GMO agriculture, and whether he should wear white socks at the upcoming jazz festival in Iowa City. The rhetorical style landed somewhere between Dave King and Maynard G. Krebs, and it added yet another dimension to an already sweet and genuinely exploratory musical evening.