2-CD German Import.
The far-reaching programme of original material, spirituals, folk songs, hymns, standards, love songs and protest songs on this double album, is in part Charles Lloyd’s response to the cataclysmic events of last September. The veteran saxophonist had been due to open at the Blue Note in New York on Tuesday, September 11th. Compassionate, sorrowful, hopeful, “Lift Every Voice” is a major statement, with strong playing by all band members including pianist Geri Allen, making her ECM debut.
Two groups - one a quintet with Geri Allen, Abercrombie and Marc Johnson and the other a quartet with Allen and Larry Grenadier - and one hell of a double album. Whether you see it as Lloyd's personal statement on 9/11 and subsequent events or as a plea for tolerance or as an assemblage of tunes linked by a spiritual or humanistic commitment to the world matters little. However, you take it, you can't escape the way that meanings and even layers of meanings resonate throughout this record. ... And as for the playing, the bass players are as different as they could be and yet still serve the music. Pianist Geri Allen has gone from being much-lauded to near neglect. Now, that is a crime against humanity and anyone listening to this album will demand amends on her behalf. She's almost perfect here. Her playing with Abercrombie is fascinating in her ability to manage the sonic difficulties these two chordal instruments cause when they play together. Abercrombie is on a good day a match for Frisell or Sco and even Metheny. He seems to have had a lot of great days making this album, whether it's the blues of "Red Bank" or the Middle Eastern sounding opener. And let's just say that Billy Hart on drums has certainly made this gig his own. ...To anyone who thinks that 130 minutes of Charles Lloyd seems a tad excessive, let met me just tell you this one should have been a triple. -Duncan Heining, Jazzwise (Recommended)