Charles Lloyd Sangam

Charles Lloyd Sangam
This disc is truly Tabla Beat Science. It’s hard not to like Sangam, it’s a non-stop rhythmic duel between Zakir Hussain and drummer Eric Harland with Lloyd as referee. Harland’s taste runs to Latin or funk inflected rhythms, which suits Hussain just fine. As usual Hussain is a marvel; he coaxes extremely melodic statements from his tablas, as well as jaw-droppingly complex rhythmic inventions. He states in the liner notes that he’s not specifically drawing on Indian beat patterns, he’s grooving freely. It doesn’t take long for Harland and Hussein to lock into each other’s playing. After the first five minutes of the opening track "Dancing On One Foot” it’s apparent to all concerned that this grouping has great potential as a regular ensemble. Lloyd is also a marvel. He’s well into his ’70s at this point, and his sax style is familiar, but like Fred Anderson, he’s acutely aware of his age and seems to be playing with more fire than ever. There are no pauses in his statements in the natural-sounding drum & bass (without the bass) workout of "Sangam,” Lloyd still has the stamina of a much younger man. Lloyd is just as inventive on flute and tarogato as on sax, and the other two change up their roles as well. "Guman” features Harland on piano, morphing from bluesy chording to minimalism while Hussain’s sings. These instrumental variations on the all out rhythm assault give the disc great momentum. (ECM)