Charles Lloyd’s second album for Blue Note features the ascetically passionate sax star and his rhythm section hosting Bill Frisell and his pedal-steel partner Greg Leisz on a programme of folk songs, three Lloyd originals, and guest appearances by Norah Jones and Willie Nelson. Explicit jazz is rare (though the whimsically playful flute/guitar theme of Lloyd’s Ornette-like Of Course of Course is a highlight), but quiet instrumental conversations like the Frisell favourite Shenandoah, a lovely All My Trials and a succinct Abide With Me are spellbinding in their awestruck sax exhortations and gleaming guitar harmonies. Dylan’s Masters of War is a little on-the-nose as a Coltranesque lament, but while Nelson delivers the anti-war song Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream in a candid tremor and Norah Jones sings You Are So Beautiful in a note-bending trance, it’s the long, closing meditation Barche Lamsel that captures the core group at its most reciprocally poetic.
Saxophonist Charles Lloyd has been working with guitarists periodically since the 1950s: Calvin Newborn, Gabor Szabo, John Abercrombie, and others have played in his bands. On I Long to See You, he (with his stellar rhythm section -- bassist Reuben Rogers and drummer Eric Harland) renews that relationship with two gifted players: Bill Frisell and Greg Leisz (the latter on lap and pedal steel). This program yields folk and spiritual songs, re-recordings of Lloyd's own tunes, a pop nugget, and a new original.
Saxophonist and flautist Charles Lloyd has spent 50 years defying boundaries between jazz, eastern, rock and classical, and I Long To See You finds him still busting genres. Two other wayward talents, Bill Frisell and Greg Leisz, flank Lloyd’s reeds with guitar and steel respectively on an overtly spiritual set that includes a bluesy take on Dylan’s Masters of War, melodic post-bop (Of Course, Of Course), surf guitar (Sombrero Sam), the 16-minute, exploratory Barché Lamsel (a nod to Lloyd’s Buddhism) and a heart-stealing 80-second rendition of Abide With Me. Willie Nelson adds the anti-war standard Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream and Norah Jones weaves her languorous magic on the title track.