Recorded live at the Theater Basel in Switzerland, Charles Lloyd’s latest release, Rabo de Nube, has all the shifting rhythms, challenging solos, and passionate tenor sax heads of his previous efforts. The main difference this time is personnel, with new-school avant-garde pianist Jason Moran, drummer Eric Harland, and young Berklee grad Reuben Rogers holding down bass duties. Each of these musicians is about half Lloyd’s age, and from a school known for incorporating hip-hop samples and Washington go-go rhythms into its compositions. Still, post-bop shape-shifter Lloyd has no problem keeping apace.
Rabo de Nube is a truly compelling album, paying tribute to the masters while ratcheting up all their ideas. The presence of John Coltrane is evident in the loosely unspooling melodies of “Migration of Spirit.” Monk makes a cameo in “La Colline de Monk,” which starts off a choppy stride intro from Moran, and has Lloyd slipping a quote from “Epistrophy” into his snaky phrasings. Rogers has a killin’ solo on “Sweet Georgia Mind” that elicits cheers, though it pales in comparison to the drum solo that follows. Harland provides structure where there often is none, but also demonstrates his sensitivity to the other players. Taken together, these four musicians are absolute fire, and seventy-year-old Lloyd is still making some of the most forward-thinking music in contemporary jazz. (ECM)