Almost two weeks after opening the 50th edition of the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland, the Charles Lloyd New Quartet headlined the opening night of the 2016 Bohemia Jazz Fest in Prague, Czech Republic, on July 11. The concert took place in one of the city’s most locations, the Old Town Square.
Lloyd was accompanied by his New Quartet, featuring pianist Jason Moran, bassist Ruben Rogers and drummer Eric Harland. Lloyd himself stuck to the saxophone for the majority of the concert, switching to the flute for only one number. In addition to his roles as instrumentalist and group leader, he seemed to be an onstage mentor to his younger bandmates occasionally taking a backseat to let their prowess shine. Likewise, with their excitement, experimentation and creativity, Moran, Rogers and Harland updated the sound of some of Lloyd’s most well-known tracks, such as “Island Blues” and “Forest Flower.”
The set list was a mixture of upbeat and slower as well as scattered improvised playing that originated from wild experimentation. For instance, a coda played on bow by Rogers led to a short intimate duo interaction with Harland. Moran strumming the chords of his piano led to a lengthier, bluesy performance with the whole band contributing excellent solos.
At the end of the concert, Lloyd received the Bohemia Jazz Fest honorary award from the festival’s director and founder, Czech-American guitarist Rudy Linka. Linka recalled Lloyd’s first concert in Prague in 1967, as part of his tour of the Eastern Bloc and the Soviet Union with pianist Keith Jarrett, bassist Ron McClure and drummer Jack DeJohnette. “It was beautiful. Those were difficult times,” Lloyd recalled on stage upon receiving the award. “It was a very powerful concert, I remember. Lots of emotion.”
The Bohemia Jazz Fest, will continue throughout the first part of July, traveling to different historic cities in the Czech Republic and coming to an end in Domažlice on July 19. All performances are free, and no tickets are required.
(Photographs by David Peltan)