Lloyd's recruiting of the young band is the kind of story that's typical of life on the road but that he sees as preordained. He heard Eric Harland playing in a jam band when the two had sets opposite each other at the Village Gate the Saturday following 9/11. He heard Harland as fulfilling the prophecy of his late partner, the great drummer Billy Higgins. Lloyd and Higgins met as teenage jazz musicians on the LA scene and recorded together many times, one example being The Water Is Wide. "We had these audiophile guys record us, and I told them that I wanted to hear Higgins breathing. And you can hear him — 'aaaahhhhhhhh.' He's not doing it loud, and there's nothing pedantic about it. It's just his sound."
As for the prophecy, Lloyd recalls, "When Master Higgins died in May of 2001, he said that we still have to keep on working on the music. I was perplexed. I said, 'You gonna come off this bed and play with me?' He said, 'No, I won't be there, but I'll always be with you.' When I was coming down from my dressing room, I heard Eric, and I knew that Higgins had sent him. And he'd been gone three months."
Harland in turn introduced Lloyd to Moran after a Carnegie Hall show. "Eric and Jason are from the same town, Houston. Eric introduced me to Jason, and we embraced, and Jason said the music had touched him all the way to his backbone — that's a Southern thing. Then Eric calls me and says, 'Jason wants to play with you.' I said, 'I thought he has his own band?' I didn't know how to process that, because I didn't know his playing. And then Eric said, 'He understands.' So that was it. So I said, 'Welcome.' "
As we're saying goodbye, Lloyd offers another bit of promo for the show: "Tell the sensitives to come out, because there's something that can be shared."
"The sensitives, the orphans, and the ones who dream of a world without all this corruption and selfishness and lobbyists — the truth lovers, the deep thinkers. They can sit quietly in a corner and commune with each other like that. Forgive me for carrying on. You've dismissed me, and I appreciate it, and thank you for your interest."
CHARLES LLOYD QUARTET | Regattabar, Charles Hotel, 1 Bennett St, Cambridge | January 21-22 @ 7:30 pm [$28] + 10 pm [$25] | 617.395.7757 or regattabarjazz.com