One of the truly great jazz artists of this or any age, saxophonist Charles Lloyd, 74, returns to Herbst Theatre Sunday in a SF Jazz presentation.
Along with Greek vocalist Maria Farantouri, 64, the fairly young bucks (pianist Jason Moran, bassist Reuben Rogers and drummer Eric Harland) of the Charles Lloyd New Quartet and lyra player Sokratis Sinopoulos, the Memphis-born Lloyd will revisit music that made his 2011 ECM double album “Live in Athens” an instant classic.
“I’m a music lover,” Lloyd said when he was mixing the Athens album.
“All my life, the world didn’t make sense. When I heard music, it reverberated. I’m a spiritual seeker, and I live in sound. I love spiritual life. That’s always been a parallel course, and of course they merge. Somehow the great mystics of music have always touched me and elevated me. So inspiration and consolation have always been a guiding light for me.”
What Lloyd and his colleagues create is amazing. Around the soulful voice of Farantouri, who with Mikis Theodorakis became the voice of Greek resistance over four decades ago, Lloyd’s New Quartet and Sinopoulos weave a spell that goes from the heart of Greece to the transnational heights of jazz improvisation.
The journey is ultimately as transcendent as it is uncategorizable. But it is one that bears similarities to other excursions that Lloyd has taken listeners on for more than a half century — explorations that have included historic collaborations with Chico Hamilton, Cannonball Adderley, Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, Keith Jarrett, Jack DeJohnette, Brad Mehldau and many others.
“How would I describe my music?” asks Lloyd rhetorically. “You know, freedom and wonder. Something happens with me. The great creators in jazz music always presented that freedom and wonder to me with the great wisdom of the ancients and modernity. All of that comes to the fore with me. I’m a dreamer, and I dream of a better world so to say. So I make these tapestries of sound that have come to me through this rich tradition — the whole of the jazz canon — and the blues and jazz greats whose music surrounded me as I was growing up.”
“Elasticity” has become a byword of Lloyd’s performances over the years. After surviving a period of addiction, his journey inward to a place of gratitude and devotion unleashed a wellspring of creativity that forever finds new channels.
Prepare for an evening of discovery, as Lloyd and his colleagues use material from their Athens concert as a springboard for new creation.
IF YOU GO
Featuring Maria Farantouri
Where: Herbst Theatre, 401 Van Ness Ave., S.F.
When: 7 p.m. Sunday Tickets: $30 to $70
Contact: (866) 920-5299, www.sfjazz.org