On Wednesday evening, Lucinda Williams appeared as the special guest of master jazz musician Charles Lloyd in a free concert at the Library of Concert. This event, in a small theater, offered an intimate experience to hear Williams’s music. Although Williams only performed for the last segment of the concert, her delight at sharing the stage with Lloyd and the strength of her voice made this night absolutely amazing.
Although Charles Lloyd is best known as a jazz saxophone player, he began the evening on the piano, accompanying violinist and Houston native Chelsey Green. They collaborated to on the world premiere of the classical piece “Maya Stepped Through Door,” commissioned by the McKim Fund of the Library of Congress.
After Lloyd and Green finished playing, the crew cleared the stage for Lloyd’s band, the Marvels. The Marvels consists of Bill Frissell (guitar), Eric Harland (drums), Greg Liesz (pedal steel), and Reuben Rogers (bass). Americana fans will recognize Bill Frissell, who has worked with Loudon Wainwright III, Chip Taylor, and Buddy Miller, as well as releasing his own critically acclaimed work in the genre. Greg Leisz also has an extensive Americana pedigree, including collaborations with Peter Case, k.d. Lang, Wilco, Shawn Colvin, Davin Alvin, and Lucinda Williams. (Frissell and Leisz made the introduction between Lloyd and Williams.)
At about 9:30, Lucinda joined the band. They started with a Bob Dylan cover, “Masters of War.” Lucinda told the audience that Charles had been doing that song since the ’60s. After an emotional rendition “There’s A Place In My Heart,” Lucinda addressed the audience, saying “I can’t you tell what an honor it is to have been chosen to be the artist to do this with Charles.”
On “Joy,” the band created a rockabilly undertone with their jazz. Lucinda talked about the album she’d made with Charles and the band (named “The Marvels”), Vanished Gardens. Disappointed that they had not received a Grammy nomination, she was nonetheless quite pleased that Paste had listed it as a top jazz album.
After the last song of the set, “We’ve Come Too Far To Turn Back Now,” everyone briefly let the stage before returning for an encore to play two songs. Lucinda sang “Ventura,” followed by Jimi Hendrix’s “Angel.” Of the six songs Williams performed with Charles Lloyd and the Marvels, only “Ventura” and “We’ve Come Too Far To Turn Back Now” appear on the Vanished Gardens albums. The audience may very well have seen one-time-only performances of most of these songs with this configuration of players.
Sometimes, DC residents get lost in grousing about the problems with metro, or the problems with traffic in the city. It’s easy to forget that we live in a world-class city that offers unique cultural enrichment opportunities, especially for its size. Concertgoers appreciated that they were seeing world-class musicians, rewarding them with two standing ovations. They will not forget this truly special evening.