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 Monday, 30 November 2015
Charles Lloyd Sky Trio Helps Mark Ten Years of Megawatt Shows at the Dakota PDF Print
Written by Mario Carrington   
Thursday, 07 March 2013

Charles LloydİAndrea Canter

The Dakota Jazz Club and Restaurant has played host to an amazing collection of stars in the music galaxy as it approaches its 10th anniversary at the downtown Minneapolis location.  The upcoming March 10-11 engagement of the Charles Lloyd Sky Trio, featuring Reuben Rogers on bass and Eric Harland on drums, with special guest Gerald Clayton on piano, has inspired a trip down memory lane to recall some of the luminaries who have appeared over the past 10 years, take note of their signature beacon in music history, and posit how their essence remains a part of the Dakota’s stage.

But first, here are a few hallmarks of what you can expect from any one of Lloyd’s upcoming performances based on prior experiences.  To summarize, you will see a spectacular exhibition of musical genius at work.  The music will be spiritual, life affirming, and celebratory.   Lloyd at different times will be pensive, emotional, meditating, cheerleading, testifying, inspiring, and applauding the efforts of Rogers, Harland and Clayton, three young accomplished stars in the vibrant jazz firmament.  It will be one of the most amazing displays you will ever see of the mind searching for the notes and the body simultaneously executing the thought.  This underscores why you owe it to yourself to see artists of the stature of Lloyd when they hit the boards at the Dakota or a jazz club near you. 

Chick Corea and Gary BurtonİAndrea Canter
We begin our brief journey down memory lane with The Elvin Jones Sound Machine, who performed in December 2003 shortly after the club relocated to 1010 Nicollet Mall from St. Paul, and a few months before his passing in May 2004.  Jones, as the drummer, was a part of the short-lived but indisputably most influential jazz quartet of the second half of the 20th century, along with John Coltrane, McCoy Tyner and Jimmy Garrison.  The pianist from that seminal quartet, McCoy Tyner, had a two-night engagement at the “new” Dakota in March 2004.  In a span of about 90 days, 2 of the 3 surviving members of that breathtaking quartet appeared at the Dakota.  Branford Marsalis, Eric Revis, Jeff Watts and Joey Calderazzo is the group that performed together over twice as long and attained quartet status worthy of Coltrane’s, and they have played The Dakota.  They tampered with perfection but successfully covered the Coltrane quartet’s iconic “A Love Supreme” suite in both studio and live versions in a scintillating manner similar to their forbearers.  It can also be said (smile) that the 2005 release called “Branford Marsalis Quartet Performs Coltrane's A Love Supreme Suite in Amsterdam, Live” tied for longest album title of all time, along with 1975’s “Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes Featuring Theodore Pendergrass, Wake Up Everybody.”

Hugh Masekela has played “Grazing in the Grass” and sung the haunting South African lament “Coal Train” (akin to Billie Holliday’s “Strange Fruit”) on the Dakota stage during the same show.  Mavis Staples has implored us to “Let’s Do It Again” from this stage.  Martha Reeves and The Vandellas has exhorted us to be “Dancin’ in the Streets” from this stage, and although we didn’t do it in the street, we did it on the club floor in the best imitation of a blue light in the basement party.  Little Anthony and the Imperials were “(I’m) On the Outside Looking In” while on stage at The Dakota.

Dave BrubeckİAndrea Canter
In November 2009, Dave Brubeck received an emotional, thunderous standing ovation as he walked out to take the stage a month before receiving the Kennedy Center honor in Washington D.C. Why? Because it was Dave Brubeck and a chance to salute a Mt. Rushmore giant of the genre before he would play “Take Five” and “Blue Rondo A La Turk” for possibly the twenty-thousandth time.  It didn’t matter that he had lost his fastball and was relying on his curveball, it was Brubeck, and the recollection of that moment and the night still elicits chills.

Curtis Fuller, who played the opening trombone notes on 1957’s classic “Blue Train,” after which the full throttle, breakthrough sound of John Coltrane’s saxophone emerges, humbly graced the Dakota stage.  In a similar manner, Jimmy Cobb, who struck arguably the most famous jazz note on a cymbal, has brought his drum kit to the stage on several occasions.  It was Cobb providing the bridge, after the theme of “So What” is initially stated by Bill Evans and Paul Chambers, then restated by the balance of the sextet (Julian Adderley, John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Cobb), that enables that composition to take flight as the lead track on 1959’s “Kind Of Blue.” When Cobb was asked off stage for a shake of the right hand which delivered that note, he acknowledged the compliment paid by this writer, simply saing, “I went for it and nailed it and he (Davis) loved it!”

Dave HollandİAndrea Canter
Chick Corea, Dave Holland, John McLaughlin and Lenny White have each played at The Dakota on numerous occasions in various configurations—Holland with his quintessential quintet most recently this past January, and Corea coming up once again with Bela Fleck on April 1.  These four extraordinary musicians also played on “Bitches Brew,” released in 1970, which was a music milestone and one of the transformative Miles Davis recordings.

This brings us back to the March 10 & 11 Lloyd engagement and why it is a must see cultural event.  The following excerpt from the liner notes associated with the February 26 release of Lloyd’s most excellent CD with Jason Moran on piano, provides a glimpse of the continuum of the history and vitality of jazz:  “…..The release of Hagar’s Song comes in time to help mark Lloyd’s 75th birthday, on March 15, 2013. About the pieces that constitute Hagar’s Song, the saxophonist says:  ‘Music has always been my inspiration and consolation – I hope to give the same. The songs we chose for the recording are part of the continuous thread of music that is my life.’  ..…When Lloyd was in the south of France at the Antibes Festival in 1966, Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn were there, too – and they took the younger jazz man ‘under the wide span of their wings and gave me great encouragement,’ Lloyd recalls. ‘They are two of our greatest composers, and I have a particular affinity for Strayhorn’s lyricism and melancholy.’” 

Lloyd had a mentor in Ellington, another Mt. Rushmore giant of the genre.  Continuing the tradition, Rogers, Harland & Clayton (and Moran) have a mentor in Lloyd, and the musical essence derived from those relationships will be displayed and deposited on stage at the Dakota for all to see in sensational fashion on March 10 and 11. Happy Birthday to Charles Lloyd. And Happy Anniversary (soon) to the Minneapolis home of the Dakota.

More about the Charles Lloyd Sky Trio with Gerald Clayton and their upcoming gig at the Dakota.


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