May 20, 1985 12:00 PM

Charles Lloyd Quartet

The Memphis-born Lloyd is one of the more esoteric reed men in jazz, a vegetarian and meditator who began a seven-year sabbatical from performing in 1975. Keith Jarrett, Jack DeJohnette and Ron Carter are among his former sidemen. On this album, recorded in Denmark during a 1983 concert tour, he plays a sometimes fierce tenor saxophone, a lyrical, sensuous flute and a chilly sounding instrument called a Chinese oboe. What is stunning about the record, however, is not Lloyd but his piano player, Michel Petrucciani, a 22-year-old Frenchman. Petrucciani may be doomed to being known less for his talent than for an affliction—he has an extreme calcium deficiency that halted his growth at around 3 feet and he weighs only about 50 pounds. But he plays with immense energy and color; there is a rare fire in him. His solos turn into little vignettes. On Night-Blooming Jasmine, for instance, he weaves dreams and nightmares into the California nights that inspired Lloyd to write the song. Petrucciani is just as striking when he plays behind Lloyd’s improvisations, accenting them, containing them, heightening them. Lloyd, Petrucciani, bassist Palle Danielsson (a Swede) and drummer Son Ship Theus (an Angeleno) share a direct, make-every-note-count approach and move gracefully from the abstract Lotus Land (To Thakur and ‘Trane) to the straight forward tribute to Billie Holiday, Lady Day. Bobby McFerrin came out of the wings at the Copenhagen Jazz Festival to scat along brightly on one track, Third Floor Richard. He just adds a grace note to what would in any case be an exciting, lovely 45 minutes of jazz. (Blue Note)

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