Charles Lloyd & The Marvels : Tone Poem Review
Charles Lloyd & The Marvels are back with their third-album, Tone Poem. The quintet is the master saxophonist and flutist Lloyd with Bill Frisell on guitar, Greg Leisz on pedal steel guitar, Reuben Rogers on bass, and Eric Harland on drums. Released as part of Blue Note’s acclaimed Tone Poet Vinyl Series, the album boasts nine vibrant tracks consisting of Lloyd originals along with well-known compositions by Ornette Coleman, Thelonious Monk, Leonard Cohen, Gabor Szabo, and Bola de Nieve.
Ornette Coleman’s “Ramblin'” is a fun selection, with the recording capturing the joy and playfulness the five musicians share with one another. Leisz’s train whistle effect on the pedal steel is a nice touch as the group travels the melody. The feel is a genre-bending flow of jazz, country, country-rock, and a little of that hip Blue Note groove. Lloyd’s ‘sheets of sounds’ dispersed between melodic phrases is very effective. The ensemble is very interactive with each other, especially leisz. Frisell stops on the distortion pedal for his solo, adding yet another color to the mix.
“Dismal Swamp” features Llyod on flute and the ensemble in an energetic frame of mind. Frisell and Llyod play parts of the melody in unison, harmony, and counterpoint, yielding another texture and color. Llyod’s flute solo is dynamic, and the support of Frisell and Leisz is exciting and conversational. Harland’s dexterous drumming pairs nicely with the swelling guitar and pedal steel tones. Llyod’s melodic language is undeniable, and that is augmented in the seamless way in which the ensemble fuses their own character into a unified ensemble sound. “Dismal Swamp” captures the group in a unique and exciting blend of modern jazz with outside the genre influences.
Tone Poem is a grounded project that focuses on the quintet’s interplay, energy, and creativity. The ensemble’s versatility and the album’s eclectic array of styles and sound references build an enjoyable sound world. Lloyd’s impeccable musicianship and distinctive playing are well supported with his sidemen choices, giving Tone Poem high marks for listenability, both in and out of the jazz idiom.
Charles Lloyd & The Marvels
March 12, 2021
Blue Note Records