Charles Lloyd

Jumping the Creek

Saxophonist Charles Lloyd is on a tear. Since 1999, he has released a string of albums that consistently rank among the best jazz titles of the year. The recently issued Jumping the Creek, a soulful meditation rich in its serene expansiveness, extends this inspirational run with the support of a newly configured combo: an intuitive, tightknit quartet that spans generations. At nearly 70, Lloyd is the laid-back yet charismatic chieftain, whose visionary sojourns, particularly on the soaring "Angel Oak Revisited," at times echo John Coltrane's latter-day ballads. Performing with pinpoint radiance on tunes like the translucent "Come Sunday" and the darkly cadenced title track, 48-year-old pianist Geri Allen (a prominent Ornette Coleman accomplice a few years back) focuses the spare yet dynamic playing of twentysomething drummer Eric Harland and former "young lion" and longtime Marsalis brothers bassist Robert Hurst. The quiet, united power of this multifaceted group is a testament to Lloyd's peaceful-warrior leadership and his ongoing mission to channel the clearsighted beauty of the jazz spirit.

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