In the words of a classic TV show, there are eight million stories in the Naked City. Resonance Records uncovers a pair of long-untold tales from New York City’s fabled jazz past on Manhattan Stories, due for release on September 16. These two performances capture the always-extraordinary saxophonist and flutist Charles Lloyd in 1965, leading a remarkable and previously unreleased quartet featuring three jazz giants: guitarist Gábor Szabó, bassist Ron Carter and drummer Pete La Roca.
The story told by these two concerts is one of an already-distinctive voice at the outset of a now-legendary career. In 1965, when these sets were recorded at the now-defunct venues Judson Hall and Slugs’, Lloyd was fresh from his stint with drummer and bandleader Chico Hamilton, where he’d first crossed paths with Szabó. Lloyd already had two albums to his name; both Carter and Szabó are heard on his second for Columbia, Of Course, Of Course, from which two titles on these new dates are culled. Within a year he would form his groundbreaking quartet with Keith Jarrett, Cecil McBee and Jack DeJohnette.
Szabó himself was on the verge of cementing his name in the jazz canon, starting his acclaimed run of Impulse! releases the next year. Carter was midway through his stint with the second great Miles Davis quintet, while La Roca had already worked with a host of names from the music’s pantheon, including John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, Bill Evans and Joe Henderson.
“It was a specific time and place,” Lloyd told Manhattan Stories annotator Don Heckman. “We all felt like the boundaries were being dissolved and we could do or try anything. This is a music of freedom and wonder — we were young and on the move.”
Together, the band embarks on a series of adventurous excursions through pieces like Lloyd’s classic “Sweet Georgia Bright” and “Dream Weaver” as well as Szabó’s “Lady Gabor,” originally recorded by the Chico Hamilton Quintet. Nothing on either disc clocks in at under ten minutes, allowing every member to stretch out and fully explore this mesmerizing material. Manhattan Stories showcases, with more than 80 minutes of music, a truly expressive group interaction that remains otherwise undocumented.
“The first time I heard these recordings, I was blown away and knew immediately how special they were,” says co-producer Zev Feldman. “This just might be the holy grail for longtime Charles Lloyd fans like myself who think they’ve heard it all. No way. Not yet! There have been archival recordings released over the years with the classic quartet featuring Jarrett and DeJohnette, but there’s never been a release with this group before — and not just a group, but a group with four legendary masters. The music and spirit are very exciting. The interplay between Charles and Gábor alone is a testament to their genius. It’s a real gift for us to share this with the world.”
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