Charles Lloyd

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Charles Lloyd, one of the key 1960s jazz musicians who reached out to a new young generation immersed in rock and turned them on to jazz, has teamed up with master tabla player Zakir Hussain for a new album which managed to tap the essence of the blues while drawing on the great improvisational resources of Indian music. Lloyd and Hussain talk to Duncan Heining about their collaboration. Charles LloydI’ve said it before but it’s ever true: Charles Lloyd talks like he plays the saxophone. Ideas pour like silver, some are followed through, while others are left behind to be picked up later and reworked. He never loses a thread and you just have to go with him and ride the flow. It’ll always going to take you somewhere unexpected. We met up last November, a few hours before his LJF performance with the trio he shares with Indian Master percussionist, Zakir Hussain, and Jazz drummer, Eric Harland. With their CD Sangam, an Indian word meaning "the confluence of three rivers," out on 24 April, anyone who missed their fabulous performance will soon be able to hear this beautiful, orchestral music. For him, it’s music from a deeply spiritual source arising from a different reality, shaped by forces outside the natural world. In conversation, he refers often to his close friend and musical companion, the late Billy Higgins, as much a presence in death as in life. A question about Charles’ musical relationship with Zakir Hussain links almost inevitably to Higgins. "You know this is a very strange thing. When Master Higgins left in May 2001, he said he’d always be with me and shortly after that I met Zakir because my friend John McLaughlin was playing a concert with Shakti at UCLA. I was up north at the time and he wanted me to come down and hear them. When I heard Zakir play the tablas that first time in 2001, it was like a light went on. It wasn’t like he was playing the blues – I come from the South remember – but that whole thing was there. I heard Zakir playing the blues on the tabla, metaphorically speaking. I was bowled over, I couldn’t stop huggin’ him. Lo’ and behold, then the San Francisco festival came along and invited us to play."