Skip to content

Charles Lloyd’s Illuminating The Sky Will Still Be There Tomorrow

Jazz legend returns to the quartet form on generous double album
L-R: Brian Blade, Charles Lloyd, Larry Grenadier, Jason Moran (Photo credit: D. Darr)

Charles Lloyd – The Sky Will Still Be There Tomorrow 
Blue Note

The opening piece on Charles Lloyd’s first album as a leader, 60 years ago, was titled “Forest Flower.” A track at the heart of this new one is called “Late Bloom.” It’s only a minute long, Lloyd duetting with himself joyfully on alto and bass flutes. But it connects then to now with profound spirit. Emphasis on the now. This is a fresh, multi-hued bloom on an ever-growing stem—Lloyd still reaching toward the light, pursuing his lifelong quest to create something new, something true.

In recent years, that pursuit has taken many remarkable turns and brought some of the most fruitful results of his career, including collaborations with such superb artists as Bill Frisell, Lucinda Williams, Gerald Clayton, and Zakir Hussain. Enriched, Lloyd returns to the quartet form, a touchstone since his first foursome captured the jazz world and beyond in the mid-‘60s. On this generous double album (with Lloyd on sax and flute, Jason Moran on piano, Larry Grenadier on bass, and Brian Blade on drums), he draws on impressionism, post-bop glory, and gospel-soul. Passages sparkle lyrical here, spark with friction there, always marked by depth and humanity, inventive and engaging and always illuminating. 

Blade’s drum invocation opens the poetic lead track, “Defiant, Tender Warrior,” with Moran and Grenadier briefly joining before the leader leaps in himself, a bit of Lester Young in his gait. A little later, “Late Bloom” serves as another invocation, ushering in the pastoral “Booker’s Garden”—an homage to his childhood friend, trumpeter Booker Little, who died at age 23 in 1961, on the verge of stardom—and then “The Ghost of Lady Day,” Lloyd’s nod to Billie Holiday.

That stretch builds to the playfully skittering title piece—as open as, well, the sky, and a brilliant celebration of the majesty that sustains us and survives us. – GRADE: A

Blue Note