Tuesday, July 10, 2018


Here's a pleasant-plus surprise. Veteran jazz sax and flute player Lloyd fronts a group of consummate players, including guitar maestro Bill Frisell and pedal steel and dobro giant Greg Leisz. They also play with Lucinda Williams, and Lloyd and Williams met and developed a mutual admiration. First she asked him to guest at a show, then he asked her, and then this collaboration was born. Lloyd and the Marves do five jazz instrumentals, and Williams takes the lead vocals on the other five songs. Four of them are her compositions, three older ones, one brand-new, and the last a cover of the Hendrix classic Angel.

Jazz fans will find lots to enjoy, as the genre-bending Lloyd has quite a team in the Marvels. The rhythm section is made up of Lloyd's longtime team of Reuben Rogers on bass and drummer Eric Harland. Frisell and Leisz help Lloyd veer off in every direction, from blues to country to free-form squonking. It's adventurous, mostly melodic, and fun, hearing players who can work in so many styles.

For Lucinda fans, it's a revelation. Here she stretches past her usual roots style, and adds a whole new level to her vocal style, with extra notes and nuances. On her own robust albums, there isn't a whole lot of room for such vocal subtlety, but here there's more pacing and less volume, allowing her to shine. She clearly enjoys the changes made to her material by this group. She's also chosen songs that are from her more poetic side, and that brings extra strength to the verses. Match that with the exceptional performances from Lloyd and the group, and it will lead the listener to a whole new appreciation of Williams.

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