August 17, 2015
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Gwen Feldman
A VIVID PORTRAIT OF A COMPLEX MUSICIAN—CHARLES LLOYD: A WILD, BLATANT TRUTH WEAVES TOGETHER THE DIFFUSE STRANDS OF CELEBRATED SAXOPHONIST/COMPOSER CHARLES LLOYD’S LIFE
(Los Angeles) — Jazz master Charles Lloyd is currently enjoying great interest and acclaim among both critics and audiences. But in spite of a career that began auspiciously in the late 1950s, grew to great heights of popularity in the late Sixties, and continues vibrantly today, Lloyd’s personal life—a sometimes wild journey of lofty musical and spiritual quests—has until now remained something of a mystery to most fans of his music. (See the short biographical sketch of Lloyd below.)
This first biography of Lloyd aims to change that. Award-winning jazz critic Josef Woodard’s fascinating, wide-ranging account ties together the musician’s passionate music, diverse sources of inspiration, and interesting musical associations with his compulsive soul-searching and need to philosophize in both music and words. Based on interviews that the author conducted during a period of more than 25 years, Charles Lloyd: A Wild, Blatant Truth tells most of this rich tale in the saxophonist’s own words.
Throughout the book Lloyd’s conversations return to and underscore his ecstatic, long-lived, and total commitment to his art: “I remember when I was a youngster playing this music, it used to feel like we could be busted for what we were playing, because it was such a wild, blatant truth. . . . I think that this so-called jazz expression is so beautiful in that it’s such a music of freedom. . . . I come from the time when we were drunk with the music. It was like a quest. . . . I’ve been bringing it all these years and I’m still here. It’s a calling and it’s a blessing. As long as I’m able, I’m going to keep singing the song.”
Josef Woodard’s commitment to his subject (a fellow-resident of the Santa Barbara area) has also been long-lived. His initial conversations with Lloyd date back more than a quarter-century, when the saxophonist would phone in to the jazz radio show Woodard hosted on KCSB and talk with him. “As our relationship continued to expand, as interviewer-interviewee, as friends,” Woodard says, “I grew to be more and more fascinated by his mysteries and complexities of personality and vision…. A musical rebirth and re-emergence was taking place in his artistic saga, and my visits to his secluded, scenic abode for interview sessions began to take on more of an exploratory character, adding chapters and contours to the Charles Lloyd story.… His restless drive and incurable searching instinct made these many encounters with him anything but dull or dialed-in.”
Prepublication comments about Charles Lloyd: A Wild, Blatant Truth have been very good: Grammy-winning jazz record producer Michael Cuscuna wrote, “Josef Woodard has untangled Charles’s reminiscences and life lessons and put them into a linear path that tells the story of a remarkable life. Charles’s voice—from his colorful Memphis use of English to his vulnerability to his ego to his love of life—comes through intact. Everyone who knows Charles is richer for the experience; this book expands that constituency.” Well-known music critic (The New York Times, JazzTimes, etc.) Nate Chinen observed, “In his words no less than his music, Charles Lloyd has long been a storyteller with a seeker’s heart. Joe Woodard captures his unique voice in this balanced and empathetic book: part profile, part testimonial, and a valuable resource for anyone looking to understand one of jazz’s great living mystery men.”
Beyond documenting this unconventional musician’s life story, Charles Lloyd: A Wild, Blatant Truth is fascinating in what it says—in Lloyd’s own words—about the history of late 20th century jazz and the state of that music today, as well as the creative choices and requisite devotion it demands of its top practitioners.
Short biographical sketch of Lloyd:
Saxophonist and composer Charles Lloyd has been a strong and important voice in the jazz world since the late 1950s. His story begins in the heated musical milieu of Memphis in the Forties and Fifties, where Lloyd grew up with Phineas Newborn Jr. and Booker Little and cut his professional teeth as a teen playing with such blues giants as Howlin’ Wolf. After high school, he moved to Los Angeles, where he attended USC and began to work with the Gerald Wilson and Chico Hamilton bands, Scott LaFaro, Gábor Szabó, Don Cherry, and others. Following a notable stint with Hamilton’s ensemble, contributing compositions and arrangements as well as playing, Lloyd joined Cannonball Adderley’s band and moved to New York. There he worked with Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, Richard Davis, Henry Grimes, Roy Haynes, and many others.
In the mid-Sixties, Lloyd put together a landmark quartet, showcasing the young Keith Jarrett, Jack DeJohnette, and Cecil McBee. It skyrocketed the saxophonist to fame—recording best-selling albums, winning Down Beat’s 1967 Artist of the Year, and becoming the first jazz musician to play the famed Fillmore auditoriums. But just as suddenly, Lloyd vanished from the scene in the early Seventies, embarking on a fifteen-year spiritual quest. During this hiatus from the jazz world, spent in Big Sur and Santa Barbara, he occasionally worked with the Beach Boys and other pop musicians.
To the delight of many, Lloyd reappeared in the early Nineties, recording for the ECM label, fronting a series of impressive bands featuring pianists Bobo Stenson, Geri Allen, Brad Mehldau, and Jason Moran; drummers Billy Higgins and Billy Hart; and other luminaries. Recent groups have featured an eclectic array of performers, including Bill Frisell and Zakir Hussain. Lloyd’s music is now stronger than ever, as is his career, with acclaim coming from both critics and the public. In 2015 he received a NEA Jazz Masters Fellowship and signed with the Blue Note record label.
CHARLES LLOYD: A Wild, Blatant Truth
Paper/$18.95, 240 pages, Illustrated (a dozen black-and-white photos)
Publication Date: September 2015
Silman-James Press, Los Angeles
Silman-James Press webpage for “Charles Lloyd”: http://www.silmanjamespress.com/shop/pc/Charles-Lloyd-66p3540.htm