While it was unexpected that the acclaimed tenor saxophonist Charles Lloyd should have collaborated with the guitarist Bill Frisell and the pedal steel guitarist Greg Leisz on the 2016 album I Long to See You, it was even more surprising that Lloyd should include the singer Lucinda Williams, as well as the two guitarists, on his most recent album, Vanished Gardens. Not that Lloyd has rejected working with a variety of eclectic artists from the worlds of popular music; his resume includes musical unions with the likes of The Beach Boys, The Doors, Willie Nelson, Norah Jones, and others.
Williams, a giantess of the Americana genre, turns out to be an inspired choice, enlivening the five tracks she sings on, including interpretations of Jimi Hendrix’s “Angel,” and her originals “Unsuffer Me,” “Dust” and “Ventura.” Frisell and Leisz, for their part, fit right in to the unusual sonic mix, while Lloyd sounds as focused and passionate as ever. As experiments go, Vanished Gardens is an unqualified success.
Charles Lloyd & The Marvels + Lucinda Williams, Vanished Gardens (Blute Note, 2018)