Charles Lloyd at Michigan Theater

Ann Arbor’s Michigan Theater was filled to capacity for Charles Lloyd and the Marvels on December 8. The first half of the concert featured the band and the second half added vocalist Lucinda Williams, who seemed to have a lot of fans in the crowd.

SEMJA Review

Lloyd’s Marvels feature two guitars, one of which was a steel guitar (played by Greg Leisz), so by the time Williams came on stage we were already in tune with the classic sounds of country and western. Overall there was a nicely done integration of the different aspects of Americana, which has been the theme of much of the work of guitarist Bill Frisell, the second guitarist on stage. I have always been impressed with the skills and imagination of drummer Eric Harland and he did not disappoint this night either. His light but firm touch was just right for this setting.

The main figure of the evening was Lloyd’s tenor sax, which floated nicely on top of the electrified guitar carpet. He is one of the most soulful of reedmen around with a unique ethereal sound and acute melodic sense. The blending of Lloyd’s sax and the C&W sounds were particularly successful on slower tunes, for example on the encore “Place in My Heart” with Williams’ plaintive vocals: “There’s a place in my heart, I got room to spare.”

I came away gratified that Lloyd and Williams have decided on musical cohabitation. You can listen to more songs on their recent CD, Vanished Gardens.