Charles Lloydwas born on March 15, 1938 in Memphis, Tennessee. From an early age, he was immersed in that city’s rich musical life and exposed to jazz. He began playing the saxophone at the age of 9. Pianist Phineas Newborn became his mentor and took him to Irvin Reason for lessons. Lloyd worked in Phineas Sr’s band and from the age of 12 worked as sideman in the blues bands of B.B. King, Howlin’ Wolf, Johnnie Ace, Bobbie “Blue” Bland, and others.
In 1956 Lloyd moved to Los Angeles and earned a Master’s degree from the University of Southern California. His influence as a composer and a player quickly pushed it in a more progressive post-bop direction. He recorded two albums as a leader for Columbia Records and Discovery; his sidemen were other young musicians including Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, and Tony Williams.
Through 1965- 1969 he led a quartet with pianist Keith Jarrett, bassist Cecil McBee (later, Ron McClure), and drummer Jack DeJohnette. The quartet’s music was an interesting fusion of straight-ahead post-bop, free jazz and world music which quickly caught the attention of both jazz fans and critics. His album Forest Flower, Live at Monterey became a commercial hit, largely on the strength of the title track.
The first ECM release was Fish Out of Water with Bobo Stenson, Palle Danielsson and Jon Christensen. The ECM recordings showcased his sensitivity as a ballad player and composer. He maintains an active recording and tour schedule. His “new” quartet with Jason Moran on piano, Reuben Roger, bass, and Eric Harland, drums, is well matched with Lloyd’s creative and adventurous spirit. They have two recordings on ECM, Rabo de Nube (2008) and Mirror (2010).