Charles Lloyd

Record Review

Phases and Stages

Charles Lloyd

Hyperion With Higgins (ECM)

As one of the last direct descendants of John Coltrane and his musical quest for spiritual enlightenment, saxophonist Charles Lloyd occupies a rarefied place in the jazz world these days. Especially now, in light of current events, Lloyd's endeavor to create a musical space of refinement, beauty, and intelligence, provides a soothing balm in these troubled times. In this, his eighth release for ECM, Lloyd continues his journey of discovery in making music that's sublime, often soulful, and sometimes even transcendent. In fact, ECM, with its fastidiousness for sound and ambience, is perhaps the perfect label for Lloyd's soundscapes. The title conjures images of mythical titans and, indeed, legendary drummer and longtime Lloyd compadre, Billy Higgins, was a colossal figure in the jazz community. He died after a lengthy illness shortly before Hyperion's release, but his indelible imprint is all over this session, propelling the music with his impeccable timing one moment, then guiding it through uncharted waters the next. Lloyd and Higgins are the elder statesmen of this multi-generational quintet, but support from John Abercrombie, a veteran of many ECM sessions dating back to the mid-Seventies when he was among the early proponents of electric jazz guitar, plus ubiquitous bassman Larry Grenadier, and especially, piano wunderkind Brad Mehldau provide a freshness of ideas. Given ample room to express themselves, the individual voices meld into a remarkably cohesive group sound that, at its best, parallels the Coltrane spiritual aesthetic. It's a compliment afforded to only a few, and an accomplishment achieved by even fewer.


A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Music Reviews
Fall Platters
Jeff Lofton
Jericho (Record Review)

Michael Toland, Nov. 29, 2019

Texas Platters
Golden Dawn Arkestra
Darkness Falls on the Edge of Time (Record Review)

Rick Weaver, Sept. 20, 2019

More by Jay Trachtenberg
New Austin Music Worth Your Bandwidth This Week
New Austin Music Worth Your Bandwidth This Week
What we’re listening to

April 16, 2021

New Austin Music Worth Your Bandwidth This Week
New Austin Music Worth Your Bandwidth This Week
What we’re listening to

Dec. 18, 2020

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle