Lift Every Voice

Charles Lloyd

The far-reaching programme of original material, spirituals, folk songs, hymns, standards, love songs and protest songs on this double album, is in part Charles Lloyd’s response to the cataclysmic events of last September. The veteran saxophonist had been due to open at the Blue Note in New York on Tuesday, September 11th. Compassionate, sorrowful, hopeful, “Lift Every Voice” is a major statement, with strong playing by all band members including pianist Geri Allen, making her ECM debut.

Featured Artists Recorded

January-February 2002, Oceanway and Cello Studios, Los Angeles

Original Release Date


  • CD 1
  • 1Hymn To The Mother
    (Charles Lloyd)
  • 2You Are So Beautiful
    (Billy Preston, Bruce Fisher)
  • 3Amazing Grace
  • 4East Virginia, West Memphis
    (Charles Lloyd)
  • 5What’s Going On
    (Al Cleveland, Marvin Gaye, Ronaldo Benson)
  • 6Angel Oak
    (Charles Lloyd)
  • 7Te Amaré
    (Silvio Rodríguez)
  • 8I’m Afraid
    (Don George, Edward Kennedy Ellington)
  • 9Hafez, Shattered Heart
    (Charles Lloyd)
  • CD 2
  • 1Rabo de Nube
    (Silvio Rodríguez)
  • 2Blood Count
    (Billy Strayhorn)
  • 3Go Down Moses
  • 4Beyond Darkness
    (Charles Lloyd)
  • 5Nocturne
    (Charles Lloyd)
  • 6Wayfaring Stranger
  • 7Deep River
  • 8Lift Every Voice And Sing
  • 9Prayer, The Crossing
    (Charles Lloyd)
Two groups - one a quintet with Geri Allen, Abercrombie and Marc Johnson and the other a quartet with Allen and Larry Grenadier - and one hell of a double album. Whether you see it as Lloyd's personal statement on 9/11 and subsequent events or as a plea for tolerance or as an assemblage of tunes linked by a spiritual or humanistic commitment to the world matters little. However, you take it, you can't escape the way that meanings and even layers of meanings resonate throughout this record. ... And as for the playing, the bass players are as different as they could be and yet still serve the music. Pianist Geri Allen has gone from being much-lauded to near neglect. Now, that is a crime against humanity and anyone listening to this album will demand amends on her behalf. She's almost perfect here. Her playing with Abercrombie is fascinating in her ability to manage the sonic difficulties these two chordal instruments cause when they play together. Abercrombie is on a good day a match for Frisell or Sco and even Metheny. He seems to have had a lot of great days making this album, whether it's the blues of "Red Bank" or the Middle Eastern sounding opener. And let's just say that Billy Hart on drums has certainly made this gig his own. ...To anyone who thinks that 130 minutes of Charles Lloyd seems a tad excessive, let met me just tell you this one should have been a triple.
Duncan Heining, Jazzwise (Recommended)
Charles Lloyd ist einer der wenigen Musiker, die Countryanklänge in ihrer Musik offensiv verarbeiten. Auch Lloyd, der afrikanische, indianische, mongolische und irische Vorfahren hat, wildert auf seiner neuen Doppel-CD Lift Every Voice, die er unter dem Eindruck des 11. September einspielte, im Fundus der populären Musik Amerikas und stößt dabei auf altbekannte Folk-Klassiker, Spirituals, Country-Traditionals, Soulhits, Ellington-Hymnen. Der Tenorsaxophonist kapituliert nicht vor der Konnotationsfülle dieser Songs. In den ausschweifenden, hymnischen Improvisationsnetzen seiner Band führt er sie in die Gegenwart, in seine Gegenwart. Und die hat viele verborgene Winkel: Neben den traditionellen Harmoniefolgen und den modernisierten Soundklischees, den Backbeats, Gitarrenechos, Verzerrungswellen sind hier auch folkloristische Töne oder die statischen Modi östlicher Musiken zu Hause. Statt sich hinter ihren Quellen wohlig einzurichten, stellt diese Musik die Individualität der Musiker noch immer in den Mittelpunkt. So stehen Türen nach vielen Seiten offen.
Stephan Hentz, Neue Zürcher Zeitung
Dass ein Bläser auf seinem Horn singe, gehört zu den Gemeinplätzen der Jazzpublizistik. Auf Charles Lloyd trifft eine solche Aussage zu wie auf nur wenige Saxophonisten. ... Das neue Album steht ganz im Zeichen des vokalen Ansatzes, angefangen beim Titel bis hin zu Auswahl und Interpretation des Materials. ... Ein Großteil der Stücke stammt aus dem Repertoire afroamerikanischen Gesangs: Spirituals, Soul-Klassiker von Marvin Gaye und Billy Preston, Balladen von Ellington und Strayhorn, eine Reverenz an den Blues aus Lloyds Heimatstadt Memphis. Songs des Kubaners Silvio Rodriguez und eigene Stücke, in denen Lloyd indische und Sufi-Einflüsse aufgreift, lenken den Blick auf andere Musikkulturen.Aus der großartigen Band geben vor allem Geri Allen und John Abercrombie dem vokalen Gestus des Saxophonisten weiter Kontur. Das Album ist ein Ergebnis von Lloyds Auseinandersetzung mit dem 11. September 2001. Was bleibt Künstlern gleich welcher Kultur angesichts der Gewalt, als "jede Stimme zu erheben"'
Berthold Klostermann, Stereo
Lloyd's tenor is luxuriously rich throughout; sticking mostly to the upper register of the horn and peppering his phrases with sweet quicksilver flurries, he makes a beautiful noise. There's a sincerity and unashamed search for beauty in his playing that recalls the Coltrane of "Dear Lord" and the tenderness of Ben Webster. Though Coltrane is an abiding influence, Lloyd's no mere copyist; he's been around long enough to find his own voice and sing with it. ... Lift Every Voice is a strong record; heartfelt, often poignant yet deeply uplifting. Worth hearing.
Peter Marsh, BBC Online
Charles Lloyd's ninth recording for ECM is a concept album: a response to the events of September 11, 2001. Artists in every medium will be confronting these traumas of the human race for years to come, but none with more valid qualifications than Lloyd. .. Many of the songs here are hymns and spirituals and traditionals, such as "Go Down Moses", "Deep River", and the title track. There are also Lloyd's own invocations: "Prayer, The Crossing," the mesmerizing extended free drone of "Hymn to the Mother," and popular songs that he turns into secular hymns, such as "You Are So Beautiful". This recording references issues so cataclysmic and transforming that Lloyd is moved to strip away the last protective layers of reserve and convention and let his shattered heart speak directly through his tenor saxopone. What Lift Every Voice expresses is rarely anger, but a sadness so deep that to find a true voice for it is to come out the other side, toward the beginnings of healing. ... Geri Allen is the latest in a long string of strong pianists to thrive in Lloyd's company. She brings a bold consciousness and new tumult to Lloyd's music. John Abercrombie, who joined Lloyd three albums ago, has never sounded better. Lloyd's rapt atmosphere bathes Abercrombie's stark lines in new meaning, and the guitarist's raspy textures contrast beautifully with Lloyd's fluidity.
Thomas Conrad, Stereophile