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An Interview With Charles Lloyd

An Interview With Charles Lloyd image
Parent Issue
Day
1
Month
November
Year
1973
OCR Text

( 'liarles LloyJ and his band opened the new King Pleasure jazz club in Ann Arbor severa! weeks ago. Charles is perhaps one of the better-known jazz musicians, due mostly to his recordtng contract with Atlantic records, which put a push behind his albums, inutsiial in the ja:z field. Lloyd pays sa.x and fiute along with a drummer and guitarist: he's still looking for the right bass player. This interview with Llovd was conducted in the WCBN studios for the SUN by Chris McCabe. SUN; When did you first start to record? Charles Lloyd: My first record was released on Cokimbia in l%5. it was called "Discovery." I made two records for Columbia, with Richard Davis, bass, Roy Haynes, drums, and Don Friedman on piano. They didn't pick up my option so I went over to Atlantic where the records were more successful. That's where I made "Forest Flower," which was more successful. They were pretty loóse sessions-the boss wasn't around... SUN: You were over in Europe for awhile. weren't you? CL: Europeans approach the music more on a cultural level, probably like you all do here with the Blues and Jazz Festival. I played with Chico Hamilton, then Cannonball Adderly. I noticed that my consciousness just didn't want to be locked into a saloon for fifty weeks out of the year. The concert scène seemed like a much better way, and I had this intuition that Europe would have more acceptance of the thing I was getting into with my new group. It was like European people would teil Americans that this Alrican thing waf really hip, so then Americans would put it in museums. So I decided to play the European game for awhile, with Keith Jarrett. Jack DeJohnette, and Cecil McBee, and we were accepted. We really touched tliem. They were open enougli to get to the music. I fee! that because of the social order here, jazz is put in the back of the record bins, and it never gets played on the radio. People don't get a chance to licar it. SUN: Where were you bom? CL: I used to think it was wierd to be born in Memphis, but Memphis is really a very strong and a root-soil place to come from. There's this strong thing of the music coming from there. As a young kid I used to have to play gigs with Bobby "Blue" Bland, B.B. King, Johnny Ace, Junior Parker, all kinds of blues people. We'd either play blues clubs or for whitey across town. I dug the blues clubs because you could get off a little, not have to play Stay-Press marches. SUN: When did you leave Memphis? CL: I left when I was eighteen, and went to Southern California to learn all there is to know about music. All they had was Fraternity Row. Bacha lot of narrowness. So I ended up doing Beethoven during the day, and hanging out with Ornette Coleman, Donald Cherry, Billy Higgins, Scott Lafaro, Charlie Haden, Eric Dolphy, all kinds of people you've never heard of. There was a strong community of people there, and we all left for New York. There were all these places to hear the music there: Birdland, Five Spot, Village Gate, Village Vanguard, the Jazz Gallery. I got to play in those places, too. I met Coltrane there, too. Really a sweet, beautiful, giant, humble man. People need music in their lives because it inspires life. It opens up so much beauty. Liberation ainidst the chaos. That's always been my goal, coming from Memphis, where there were all these negatives thrust at me. That's why the Eastern religions always touched me: it's a becoming. SUN: You said you were into Transcendental Meditation... CL: Ever since I was a young dude I used to sit and ponder the question "What it is?" 1 noticed the music was giving it to me, and I sort of had an affinity to it. I had these friends I was doping with in New York. They split for awhile and when they carne back they were looking real clear around the eyes and radiating such good vibes. I asked them what it was and they said "Transcendental Meditation." It's a simple technique: medítate twice a day, radiate, dissolve stress, nervous system becomes stronger, feel good, everything progresses, you evolve. I said great, let me check it out. They said you have to stop doping for a few weeks. I could see they were evolving, so I finally met someone who taught me how to do it. It's really fine. It dissolves stress, and makes life so much easier, so much more aware. I've realized life is really about service, about evolution. SUN: What about your vegetarianism? CL: Dick Gregory originally got me interested in changing my eating habits. He's down to 95 pounds now...he used to weigh 285 pounds-heavy barbeque jones. Then in '69 I was sitting on the beach in California and this guy carne by and laid a book on me called "Mucousless Diet Health Healing System" by Arnold Airit. He says most of us are walking cesspools. What's happening is fruit: the sun shines on it, you eat it, it turns into great sugar, great nourisrunent, you feel good, it burns clean. Now I'm into fasting... it's so beautiful. Such a spiritual thing happens to you. You know, there's enough resources for us all to dance right here; harmonize with the environment, do your karma right, do your evolution, and dance on out of here. When you change your diet, you have much more open spiritual experiences. SUN: Ever thought about electrifyng your saxophone? CL: I did it for awhile, but the quality isn't right yet. I don't want it to sound like a peashooter coming through a microphone. Technology is okay, and I like trees and birds, too. The mix between the two can happen. Profït in the marketplace is the problem. If the dudes could be moral and rational about that, it'd be all right. You have to respect that we live here-it's a small planet. So, meditation, changing your diet, listening to music, growing together is where it's at.