Veteran (b. 1938) tenor saxophonist-flutist Charles Lloyd’s 2-CD set Lift Every Voice on ECM is a panoramic stylistic and emotional tour de force. He strides across a huge langscape of original material; spirituals; hymns; standards; folk, love, and protest songs; speaking boldly with unadorned melody lines (you won’t think of “You Are So Beautiful” the same way again), whispering conspiratorially oblique, skittering truths (“Hymn to the Mother”), dramatically demonstrating that jazz can absorb and translate any musical style to its own ends, in this case Lloyd’s reaction to 9/11. He had been scheduled to open at the Blue Note that very evening.
Equally handling the plain and the ornate, simple and intricate, Lloyd and his band – Geri Allen: piano, John Abercrombie: guitar, Marc Johnson: double-bass, Larry Grenadier: double-bass, Billy Hart: drums – leave the listener stunned, deeply touched, and quietly hopeful. Life Every Voice will be a wellspring of insight and nuggets of secret knowledge for some time to come.
Without uttering a single word, this is a more eloquent rendering of the emotional realities of 9/11 than all the literal-minded lyrical responses put together, including Bruce.