Charles Lloyd Quartet, Rabo de Nube (ECM)

The melodic playing of saxophonist Charles Lloyd often drifts lightly from one measure to the next. His ability to make popular jazz in the heyday of the hippie and his years spend teaching mediation add to his ethereal aura. The young pianist Jason Moran is incessantly inventive and deeply intellectual. He never lets us forget that the piano is percussion instrument, and his rhythms are less inspired by cool swing than the clank of machines. On Lloyd’s live album Rabo de Nube, the unlikely pair joins forces, and each is better for the encounter. Lloyd’s playing is tougher than normal; Moran’s more melodic. Lloyd opens the 14-minute track “Prometheus” with a flutter of notes on the tenor sax. The rhythmically inventive tune is full of the unexpected twists that fans expect from Moran. When it draws to a close, Moran echoes Lloyd’s runs from the start. On “Booker’s Garden,” Lloyd takes up the flute and ironically, his playing has a rougher edge that brings him closer to Moran. The two almost swap styles at times, finding new possibilities in the exchange. Live albums, even in jazz, can be self-indulgent. On Rabo de Nube, however, the format gives the players time to explore. Hopefully Lloyd and Moran will find more occasions to meet up and continues their conversation.