This retreat certainly allowed the saxophonist to hone his technical skills, but opinions differ on the influence that this meditation had on his music. The bland, soulless albums that he put out during the 1970s are best forgotten. In 1982 he teamed up with Michael Petrucciani, a teenage European pianist who had just moved to the United States, and once again began to make creative music. The two live recordings that document their short-lived quartet show Lloyd back in the saddle, full of energy and tender passion. The rich tone on both tenor saxophone and flute, the dedication to melody, and the exuberant emotionalism that had been characteristic of his playing from the start were all abundantly intact and have remained so since.
The Charles Lloyd Quintet, playing at the Michigan Theater on Thursday, November 13, includes two magnificent ex-Detroiters bassist Robert Hurst and pianist Geri Allen as well as guitarist John Abercrombie and the extraordinary drummer Billy Hart.
[Originally published in November, 2003.]