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Charles Lloyd (jazz musician)

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Charles Lloyd
Lloyd in October 2014
Lloyd in October 2014
Background information
Born (1938-03-15) March 15, 1938 (age 86)
Memphis, Tennessee, U.S.
Instrument(s)Tenor saxophone, flute
Years active1959–present
LabelsAtlantic, Blue Note, Columbia, ECM, Pacific Arts
Formerly ofCelebration

Charles Lloyd (born March 15, 1938)[1] is an American jazz musician. He primarily plays tenor saxophone and flute and occasionally other reed instruments, including alto saxophone and the Hungarian tárogató. Lloyd's primary band since 2007 has been a quartet including pianist Jason Moran, acoustic bassist Reuben Rogers, and drummer Eric Harland.

Early life and education[edit]

Lloyd performing at the Russian River Jazz Festival in Guerneville, California in 1981
Lloyd performing at Copenhagen Jazz Festival in 2018

Lloyd was born in Memphis, Tennessee on March 13, 1938.[1] He grew up in Memphis, where he was exposed to blues, gospel, and jazz music. He is of African, Cherokee, Mongolian, and Irish ancestry. He was given his first saxophone at the age of nine and was riveted by 1940s radio broadcasts by Charlie Parker, Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young, Billie Holiday and Duke Ellington. His early teachers included pianist Phineas Newborn, Jr. and saxophonist Irvin Reason. His closest childhood friend was trumpeter Booker Little. As a teenager Lloyd played jazz with saxophonist George Coleman, Harold Mabern, and Frank Strozier, and was a sideman for blues artists Bobby "Blue" Bland, Howlin' Wolf and B.B. King, and R & B singer Johnny Ace.

In 1956, Lloyd left Memphis for Los Angeles to earn a degree in music at the University of Southern California,[2] where he studied with Bartók specialist Halsey Stevens. At night, he played in jazz clubs with Ornette Coleman, Billy Higgins, Scott LaFaro, Don Cherry, Charlie Haden, Eric Dolphy, Bobby Hutcherson and other leading west coast jazz artists. He also was a member of Gerald Wilson's big band.


In 1960, Lloyd was invited to become music director of Chico Hamilton's group,[2] when Eric Dolphy left to join Charles Mingus's band. The Hungarian guitarist Gábor Szabó, bassist Albert "Sparky" Stinson, and trombonist George Bohanon soon joined Lloyd in the band. Hamilton's albums on Impulse!, Passin' Thru and Man from Two Worlds, featured music arranged and written almost entirely by Lloyd. He collaborated with Nigerian drummer Babatunde Olatunji, with whom he played when he was not on the road with Hamilton. He joined the Cannonball Adderley Sextet in 1964,[2] and performed with Nat Adderley, Joe Zawinul, Sam Jones and Louis Hayes. For two years he remained with Cannonball Adderley, whom he credits in his own development as a leader.

In 1964, Lloyd signed with CBS Records and began to record as a leader. His Columbia recordings, Discovery! (1964), and Of Course, Of Course (1965), led to his being voted DownBeat magazine's "New Star." He was also one of the well known and notable supporting musicians of The Beach Boys in their live performances. Of Course, Of Course was reissued by Mosaic Records in 2006.

In March 2021, Blue Note released Tone Poem, the third album by Charles Lloyd & the Marvels. In addition to three new Lloyd originals, it features compositions by Leonard Cohen, Ornette Coleman, Thelonious Monk, Bola de Nieve, and Gábor Szabó.[3][4][5]


In New York in 1966, Lloyd formed his "classic quartet" with drummer Jack DeJohnette, pianist Keith Jarrett and bassist Cecil McBee (continued on by Ron McClure).[2] The Quartet's 1966 live album, Forest Flower, recorded at the Monterey Jazz Festival, was one of the most successful jazz recordings of the mid-1960s, building a heterogeneous audience of rock as well as jazz fans in the prospering hippie counterculture. The Quartet toured across America and Europe. In 1967, Lloyd was voted "Jazz Artist of the Year" by DownBeat magazine.[6]

Lloyd is given credit for anticipating world music by incorporating music from other cultures into his compositions, as early as the late 1950s. He describes his music as having "danced on many shores".[7] Peter Watrous stated, "Lloyd has come up with a strange and beautiful distillation of the American experience, part abandoned and wild, part immensely controlled and sophisticated."[8]

Despite recording several albums during the 1970s and occasionally appearing as a sideman, he practically disappeared from the jazz scene.[2] While practicing Transcendental Meditation in the 1970s, Lloyd played extensively with The Beach Boys, both on their studio recordings and as a member of their touring band;[2] several members of the group shared his affinity for the technique. Lloyd recorded at Brian Wilson's home studio during this period and has recalled that Brian and several other members of The Beach Boys performed on these recordings, some of which (e.g. "All Life Is One") were included on Lloyd's 1971 LP 'Warm Waters', and which also featured Quicksilver Messenger Service lead guitarist John Cipollina. Lloyd also was a member of Celebration, a band consisting of members of the Beach Boys' touring band as well as Mike Love and Al Jardine. Celebration released two albums.[9][10]

Lloyd returned to the jazz world in 1981 when he toured with Michel Petrucciani.[2] British jazz critic Brian Case called Lloyd's return "one of the events of the 1980s."[11] The group produced a special edition cassette, Night Blooming Jasmine, and two live records, Montreux 82 and A Night in Copenhagen, which also features Bobby McFerrin. After the tour, Lloyd again retreated to Big Sur.

In 1986, after being hospitalized with a nearly fatal medical condition, Lloyd rededicated himself to music. When he regained his strength in 1988, he formed a new quartet with Swedish pianist Bobo Stenson. When Lloyd returned to the Montreux Festival in 1988,[2] Swiss critic Yvan Ischer wrote: "To see and hear Charles Lloyd in concert is always an event, not only because this saxophonist has been at quite a few crossroads, but also because he seems to hold an impalpable truth which makes him a thoroughly original musician...This is what we call grace."[7]

Recording for ECM[edit]

In 1989, Lloyd made his first recording for ECM Records, Fish Out of Water. Manfred Eicher, ECM's founder and producer, compared the recording to a Giacometti painting, saying, "I really believe this is the refined essence of what music should be. All the meat is gone, only the bones remain."[11] From 1989, Lloyd toured and recorded for ECM. His albums for the label include Canto, Voice in the Night, The Water Is Wide (featuring Brad Mehldau, John Abercrombie, Larry Grenadier and Billy Higgins), Lift Every Voice (featuring Geri Allen), and the live Rabo de Nube (with Jason Moran).

Lloyd's albums for ECM contain elements of world music and experimentation, as in the duets on Which Way Is East with his longtime friend, Billy Higgins.[12][13][14]

Lloyd with Reuben Rogers and Eric Harland in Santa Barbara, California in 2006

Mirror, his second recording with the New Quartet (2010), has been called a "Charles Lloyd classic." Rabo de Nube, also on ECM, captured the quartet "live" at its inception, and was voted No. 1 recording for the 2008 JazzTimes Reader's and Critic's Poll.[15]

Lloyd collaborated with the classical Greek singer, Maria Farantouri, for a concert at the Herodion Theater at the Acropolis. Ta Nea. A newspaper in Athens, stated "Music has no borders...The audience was filled with a Dionysian ecstasy. While the music had reminiscences of a Hypiros fair, at the same time it took you to the heart of New York City."[11] This concert was recorded and Athens Concert was released by ECM in 2011.[16]

Lloyd celebrated his 75th birthday in 2013 with concerts in the Temple of Dendur at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and the Kennedy Center Concert Hall in Washington, D.C.[17][18] On June 25, 2014, it was announced that Lloyd was to receive the NEA Jazz Masters Award 2015.[19] Lloyd was the Honoree at the 2014 Monterey Jazz Festival Jazz Legends Gala, hosted by Herbie Hancock.[20] Lloyd was the recipient of the 2014 Alfa Jazz Fest International Music Award.[21] In January 2015, it was announced that Lloyd had signed with Blue Note Records. Wild Man Dance, a live recording of a long-form suite commissioned by the Jazztopad Festival in Wroclaw, Poland, was released in April 2015.[22] Lloyd was presented with an honorary Doctor of Music degree from the Berklee College of Music in a ceremony at the Umbria Jazz Festival in July 2015.[23] In 2016, Lloyd was inducted into the Memphis Music Hall of Fame.[24]

Personal life[edit]

Lloyd lives in Southern California with his wife, Dorothy Darr.[25]


As leader/co-leader[edit]

Recording date Title Label Year released Notes
1964-05-27, -29 Discovery! Columbia 1964
Nirvana Columbia 1968
Of Course, of Course Columbia 1965
1965-other date
Manhattan Stories Resonance 2014 Live
1966-03-20 Dream Weaver Atlantic 1966
1966-09-08, -18 Forest Flower Atlantic 1967 Live
1966-07-23, -24
The Flowering Atlantic 1971 Live
1966-10-29 Charles Lloyd in Europe Atlantic 1968 Live
1967-01-27 Love-In Atlantic 1967 Live
1967-01-27 Journey Within Atlantic 1967 Live
1967-03-14 Charles Lloyd in the Soviet Union Atlantic 1970 Live
1967-06-18 Montreux Jazz Festival 1967 TCB 2017 [2CD] Live
1968-11-15 Soundtrack Atlantic 1969 Live
1970-07-09 Moon Man Kapp 1970
1971 Warm Waters Kapp 1971
1972 Waves A&M 1972
1973 Geeta A&M 1973
1978 Weavings Pacific Arts 1978?
1979 Koto ADC 1979 Also released by Unity as Pathless Path
1979 Big Sur Tapestry Pacific Arts 1979
1979 Autumn in New York Destiny 1979
1979 Morning Sunrise ADC 1979
1982-07-25 Montreux 82 Elektra/Musician 1983 Live
1983-07-11 A Night in Copenhagen Blue Note 1985 Live
1989-07 Fish Out of Water ECM 1990
1991-11 Notes from Big Sur ECM 1992
1993-07 Acoustic Masters I Atlantic 1994
1993-07 The Call ECM 1993
1994-07 All My Relations ECM 1995
1996-12 Canto ECM 1997
1998-05 Voice in the Night ECM 1999
1999-12 The Water Is Wide ECM 2000
1999-12 Hyperion with Higgins ECM 2001
2001-01 Which Way Is East ECM 2004
2002-02 Lift Every Voice ECM 2002
2004-01 Jumping the Creek ECM 2005
2004-05-23 Sangam ECM 2006 Live
2007-04-27 Rabo de Nube ECM 2008 Live
2009-12 Mirror ECM 2010
2010-06 Athens Concert ECM 2011 Co-led with Maria Farantouri. Live
2012-04 Hagar's Song ECM 2013 Co-led duo with Jason Moran
2013-11-24 Wild Man Dance Blue Note 2015 Live at Jazztopad Festival, Wrocław, Poland
2015-04-27, -28 I Long to See You Blue Note 2016 with The Marvels
Passin' Thru Blue Note 2017 Live at Montreux Jazz Festival and
The Lensic Theater, Santa Fe, New Mexico
2017-04-14, -15,
2017-09-09, -10
Vanished Gardens Blue Note 2018 with The Marvels and Lucinda Williams
2018-03-15 8: Kindred Spirits (Live from the Lobero) Blue Note 2020 Live at the Lobero Theatre, Santa Barbara
2020? Tone Poem Blue Note 2021 with The Marvels
2018-12-04 Trio: Chapel Blue Note 2022 with Bill Frisell and Thomas Morgan
2020-09-09 Trio: Ocean Blue Note 2022 with Gerald Clayton and Anthony Wilson
2020-09 Trio: Sacred Thread Blue Note 2022 with Julian Lage and Zakir Hussain
2024-03 The Sky Will Still Be There Tomorrow Blue Note 2024 with Jason Moran, Larry Grenadier and Brian Blade

Main source:[26]

As sideman[edit]

Release date Title Label Notes
With Cannonball Adderley
1964 Cannonball Adderley Live! Capitol
1964 Cannonball Adderley's Fiddler on the Roof Capitol
1991 Radio Nights Night/Virgin
With Canned Heat
1971 Historical Figures and Ancient Heads United Artists Appears on two tracks
With Celebration
1978 Almost Summer: Music from the Original Motion Picture MCA
1979 Celebration Pacific Arts
1979 Disco Celebration ADC
With Chico Hamilton
1960 Bye Bye Birdie-Irma La Douce Columbia
1960 The Chico Hamilton Special Columbia
1962 Drumfusion Columbia
1962 Transfusion Studio West
1962 Passin' Thru Impulse!
1963 A Different Journey Reprise
1964 Man from Two Worlds Impulse!
1965 Chic Chic Chico Impulse! Appears on only one track
With Mark Isham
1998 Afterglow: Music from the Motion Picture Columbia
With Harvey Mandel
1972 The Snake Janus Appears on only one track
With Les McCann
1961 Les McCann Sings Pacific Jazz Appears on four tracks
With Roger McGuinn
1973 Roger McGuinn Columbia Appears on two tracks
With Joe Sample
1995 Old Places, Old Faces Warner Bros. Appears on three tracks
With Gábor Szabó
1973 Gábor Szabó Live Blue Thumb Appears on only one track
With The Beach Boys
1971 Surf's Up Brother/Reprise Appears on only one track
1973 Holland Brother/Reprise
1976 15 Big Ones Brother/Reprise Appears on only one track
1978 M.I.U. Album Brother/Reprise
With The Doors
1972 Full Circle Elektra Appears on "Verdilac" and "The Piano Bird"
With William Truckaway
1976 Breakaway Reprise


  • The Monk and the Mermaid - A documentary film by Fara C & Giuseppe De Vecchi - Oleo films - Forest Farm + Art - Mezzo TV - 2008
  • Arrows Into Infinity - A film by Dorothy Darr & Jeffery Morse - Forest Farm + Art - 2013
  • LOVE LONGING LOSS - At Home with Charles Lloyd During a Year of the Plague - A film by Dorothy Darr - Pierre Boulez SAAL - 2021


  1. ^ a b "Charles Lloyd | Biography & History". AllMusic. Retrieved July 29, 2021.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Colin Larkin, ed. (1992). The Guinness Who's Who of Jazz (First ed.). Guinness Publishing. p. 259/260. ISBN 0-85112-580-8.
  3. ^ Martoccio, Angie (February 19, 2021). "Hear Charles Lloyd and the Marvels Cover of Leonard Cohen's 'Anthem'". Rollingstone.com. Retrieved July 29, 2021.
  4. ^ "Charles Lloyd and the Marvels - Tone Poem". Jazz Music Archives. Retrieved May 21, 2023.
  5. ^ Jurek, Thom. "Charles Lloyd and the Marvels: Tone Poem". AllMusic. Retrieved May 21, 2023.
  6. ^ "1967 Downbeat Readers Poll". DownBeat. December 31, 1967. Archived from the original on September 27, 2013. Retrieved May 14, 2013.
  7. ^ a b Lloyd, Charles. "Biography" (PDF). Charleslloyd.com/. Archived from the original (PDF) on June 26, 2013. Retrieved April 24, 2014.
  8. ^ Watrous, Peter (June 22, 1992). "Review/Jazz Festival; Tribute to Coltrane from Charles Lloyd". New York Times.
  9. ^ Kluck, Henk; Stubenrauch, Robert (2003). Dream Weaver: Charles Lloyd – His Life and Music. Thora Press. pp. 62, 70, 75–79. ISBN 90-9016658-0.
  10. ^ "Video: The Beach Boys, 'All This is That' live 1978". YouTube. Archived from the original on April 22, 2014. Retrieved April 28, 2014.
  11. ^ a b c "All About Jazz Musician Profile: Charles Lloyd". All About Jazz. Retrieved April 24, 2014.
  12. ^ Richardson, Derk (April 1, 2004). "A Jazz Love Affair / Charles Lloyd pays homage to Billy Higgins at the SF Jazz Fest Spring Season". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved May 16, 2013.
  13. ^ Elwood, Philip (March 22, 2001). "Loving Tribute for Higgins / Emotional riffs by Sanders, Lloyd". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved May 16, 2013.
  14. ^ Elwood, Philip (October 28, 1997). "Jazz Fest's Drum Summit". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved May 16, 2013.
  15. ^ "2008 Year in Review: Top 50 CDs". JazzTimes. January 2009. Retrieved April 24, 2014.
  16. ^ "ECM Records Catalog". ECM Records Official Site. ECM Records. Archived from the original on April 24, 2014. Retrieved April 24, 2014.
  17. ^ "Charles Lloyd New Quartet and Friends at The Temple of Dendur". Metropolitan Museum of Art. Retrieved April 24, 2014.
  18. ^ "Charles Lloyd Birthday Celebration". The Kennedy Center Official Website. The Kennedy Center. Retrieved April 24, 2014.
  19. ^ "NEA Announces Lifetime Honors Recipients | NEA". Arts.gov. June 25, 2014. Archived from the original on June 29, 2014. Retrieved May 20, 2015.
  20. ^ "2015 Jazz Legends Gala | 58th Annual Monterey Jazz Festival – September 18 – 20, 2015". Montereyjazzfestival.org. Retrieved May 20, 2015.
  21. ^ "Фестиваль "Альфа Джаз"". Alfajazzfest.com. Archived from the original on October 6, 2014. Retrieved May 20, 2015.
  23. ^ Keefe-Feldman, Mike. "Berklee, Umbria Jazz Festival Celebrate 30-Year Partnership". www.Berklee.edu. Retrieved August 4, 2015.
  24. ^ Shaw, Chris (September 8, 2016). "Memphis Music Hall of Fame Announces 2016 Inductees". Memphis Flyer. Retrieved September 13, 2016.
  25. ^ Woodard, Josef (June 2008). "Charles Lloyd". JazzTimes. Archived from the original on May 23, 2013. Retrieved July 9, 2013.
  26. ^ "Charles Lloyd Discography". jazzdisco. Retrieved March 12, 2023.

External links[edit]