In May of this year (2018), Charles Lloyd & The Marvels released their second album Vanished Gardens; this one featuring Lucinda Williams. In the opinion of this writer, it is simply fantastic. However, be forewarned, Vanished Gardens is genre-bending music and if you are looking for a strictly jazz record from Lloyd this is not it. But there is still plenty here for fans of either artist to find to enjoy.
The Marvels are Bill Frisell on guitar, Greg Leisz on pedal steel guitar and dobro, Reuben Rogers on bass, and Eric Harland on drums. Vanished Gardens was produced by Lloyd, Dorothy Darr, and Don Was.
“A friend had turned me on to Lucinda when Car Wheels On a Gravel Road came out,” Lloyd recalls. “Lu has worked a lot with Bill Frisell and Greg Leisz, so a couple of years ago she came to one of my Marvels concerts at the Lobero Theater in Santa Barbara. It was our first meeting and I sensed a deep Southern crossroads connection. Not long after that meeting she invited me to guest at her UCLA concert and then I invited her to guest at one of my concerts about a year later… It was clear we had something we wanted to explore together.”
Williams is featured on five of the ten tracks on Vanished Gardens, including expansive new versions of her well-known songs “Dust,” “Ventura” and “Unsuffer Me,” as well as a full-hearted interpretation of Jimi Hendrix’s “Angel” that closes the album. Alternating with the vocal tracks are five instrumental offerings including three new Lloyd originals and versions of Thelonious Monk’s “Monk’s Mood” and “Ballad of The Sad Young Men.”
This is the second recording Lloyd has released with this group, the earlier recording, I Long To See You, came out in 2016. I Long To See You was the first album collaboration between Lloyd and Frisell. It’s an impressive mix of the familiar and foreign that manages to fall right into the wheelhouse of both artists. … It may be Lloyd’s name in lights, but the music speaks to the true partnership at play” (All About Jazz Review, accessed October 30, 2017).
As diverse as the material here is, there’s no sense that Lloyd is putting on different hats. Like his career as a whole, Vanished Gardens shows how the many currents of American music all flow into a single stream.