Legendary saxophonist, composer, and jazz mystic Charles Lloyd celebrated his 80th birthday on March 15, 2018 at his hometown venue, Santa Barbara’s Lobero Theatre, with an unprecedented grouping of musical friends including guitarist Julian Lage, pianist Gerald Clayton, bassist Reuben Rogers, and drummer Eric Harland, with special guests organist Booker T. Jones and bassist (and Blue Note President) Don Was joining the ensemble midway. Lloyd’s magnificent new album 8: Kindred Spirits (Live from The Lobero), which will be released February 14 on Blue Note Records, documents both the sights and sounds of that extraordinary concert, and arrives in a limited-edition deluxe boxset that includes 3-LPs, 2-CDs, and a DVD of the full performance, along with a 96-page hardcover book and 2 photo prints that commemorate the first 8 decades of Lloyd’s remarkable journey. The album will also be released in standard LP/DVD, CD/DVD, and digital versions that feature the concert’s first set.
A video of the quintet’s sublime performance of “Requiem” from the DVD has been released today, and the song is also available digitally to stream or download.
Lloyd has played the 150-year-old adobe theater in downtown Santa Barbara more often than any other venue, and more often than any other performer. Knowing that Marian Anderson sang there on February 14, 1940 makes it a sacred space for him. In the concert film you can see him bobbing with pleasure beneath his pointy, indigo knit cap, curly white hair, and long goatee. He beams at his neighbors, places the palms of his hands together and pulls them against his black sweater and golden tenor saxophone in the traditional Buddhist greeting.
A birthday is a door between the past and the future, and this concert reflected that truth. Representing the future were 34-year-old pianist Gerald Clayton, who performs regularly with Lloyd, and 31-year-old guitarist Julian Lage, who had performed with him when he was 12-years-old. Representing the past was 74-year-old organist and fellow Memphis native Booker T. Jones, who had never played with Lloyd at all. This was a one-of-a-kind line-up for a one-of-a-kind ritual.
“Today, I bring with me everything I’ve ever played, but I do it with beginner’s mind. That way I get both the benefit of experience and the desire for new discoveries. Some nights I am blessed and the deities visit me. You can’t bring everything you know at once, because that’s the error of youth. You have to choose the right notes, but I find that even now I’m finding new notes that I never had before.”
Charles Lloyd is an NEA Jazz Master and recent recipient of the prestigious French honor l’Ordre Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres, which was presented to the saxophone legend during his European tour in November 2019.