CULTURE

Two pivotal figures in music set to bring Jazz Masters series to its end

Nowadays working regularly again after abandoning the scene – at the height of his fame in the 1970s – for an extended period, jazz great Charles Lloyd will be in Athens for one show on November 27 as part of the Jazz Masters series being staged at the Pallas Theater. It ends two nights later with the veteran virtuoso Yusef Lateef, now 87 and still going. The 69-year-old Lloyd, whose career began rolling in his teens as a sideman on saxophone for acts such as George Coleman, Howlin Wolf and B.B. King, is touring with two more acclaimed musicians, percussionist Zakir Hussain and drummer Eric Harland. Widely regarded as a pioneering figure in world music – a relatively recent scene with a globalized view of music that has connected and fused musical styles from all over the planet – Lloyd has a background to match. His ancestry includes African, Cherokee Indian, Mongolian and Irish roots. Lloyd’s career shot sky-high in 1966 with the release of «Forest Flower: Live In Monterey,» an album that sold over 1 million copies. It featured pianist Keith Jarrett, still unknown, a year before his debut album release, «Life Between the Exit Signs.» Lloyd’s band of the mid-to-late 60s ranked as one of the era’s most celebrated in pop culture, as was highlighted by appearances at the Fillmore venue in San Francisco, hallowed ground back then for top-selling rock acts, among them the Doors and Jefferson Airplane. Lloyd and his band were the first jazz group to play the venue. The occasion was documented on «Love-In: Live at the Fillmore Auditorium,» a live album released in 1967. Another live album followed within the same year, «Charles Lloyd in the Soviet Union,» which documented the artist’s tour of the USSR during the Cold War. By the late 60s, Lloyd began to fade from view, and the few albums he did make in the 70s were quite spiritual, bordering on new-age music. Around this time, he had become a teacher of transcendental meditation. Several years later, or in the early 80s, pianist Michel Petrucciani tracked down Lloyd and managed to persuade the detached musician to return to active playing. The pair worked together for a while, and, by the late 80s, Lloyd had formed a new group which featured pianist Bobo Stenson, bassist Palle Danielsson and drummer Jon Christensen. With this outfit, Lloyd staged a full-scale comeback with albums coming at the rate of about one a year on the prestigious ECM label. The Jazz Masters series at the Pallas Theater ends two nights after Lloyd’s show with a performance by the legendary Yusef Lateef, which will be the 87-year-old’s first in Greece. The multi-award-winning artist, professor and writer, ranks as one of the most significant musicians and improvisers of the 20th century. Lateef, who has recorded approximately 100 albums and toured with a countless variety of outfits throughout his long-lasting career, will be accompanied by a quintet comprising Lionel Belmondo on saxophone and flute, Stephane Belmondo on trumpet, Laurent Fickelson on piano, Sylvain Romano on double bass, and Dre Pallemaerts on drums. Jazz Masters series, Pallas Theater, 5 Voukourestiou St, Syntagma, Athens. November 27, Charles Lloyd; November 29, Yusef Lateef. For ticket information (30-70 euros), call 210.321.3100.