Trio of albums gives saxophonist Charles Lloyd the opportunity to search inward The saxophonist, who began his career in the '70s, has played with notable names like the Beach Boys and Cannonball Adderley. He's still flowing with music.

Trio of albums gives saxophonist Charles Lloyd the opportunity to search inward

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Charles Lloyd has lived many musical lives. Over the decades, the saxophone virtuoso has blurred the lines between jazz and popular music, playing with Cannonball Adderley, B.B. King, the Grateful Dead. And he's still overflowing with music. This year, Lloyd is releasing three different albums featuring three different trio ensembles. NPR's Milton Guevara has this preview.


MILTON GUEVARA, BYLINE: The first album was recorded in a Gothic chapel, a deliberate location for Charles Lloyd.

CHARLES LLOYD: I'm probably at a place and an age where I want to get closer to the source.

GUEVARA: The 84-year-old recorded this trio with guitarist Bill Frisell and bassist Thomas Morgan. These musicians and this space inspire Lloyd.

LLOYD: We want to find new forests and new territories and new waters and unpolluted skies and oceans and fields. And we would like to dream that we can all be kind to each other and not make such a mess of things.


GUEVARA: So why is Charles Lloyd releasing three albums with three trios?

LLOYD: Different festivals, they would ask me to play different nights with different formations. And I rather like that because I go exploring with these other poets and sages. It was like another chance to tell the truth.

GUEVARA: Pianist Gerald Clayton is one of those sages.

GERALD CLAYTON: I always say, playing with Charles Lloyd feels like standing at the edge of a cliff and trust-falling backwards and just hoping that your wings will catch. And they always do.


CLAYTON: He's looking for a specific energy, a specific spirit. And that's kind of one of being a child, a sort of childlike spirit of discovering music and discovering the instrument for the first time every single time you play it.


GUEVARA: When Lloyd was a child, his mother hosted traveling musicians. Memories of his youth include meeting the likes of Johnny Hodges and Duke Ellington.

LLOYD: My mother told Duke and Johnny that her son wanted to be a musician. And Duke said, no, he must be a doctor, lawyer or Indian chief because this stuff is too hard. And what he didn't know was that by that time, I was bit by the cobra, and there was no turning back.


GUEVARA: The first album in the series, "Chapel," comes out tomorrow, "Ocean" in August and "Sacred Thread" in October. Recording this trio of albums gave Lloyd the opportunity to search inward.

LLOYD: The whole thing was a revelation. And you see - that's what I'm about. I want to sing a song from an ancient forest that has the wisdom of the ancients.


GUEVARA: Milton Guevara, NPR News.


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