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Lobero Theatre Ghostlight Society to Honor Jazz Musician Charles Lloyd as Artistic Luminary

Charles Lloyd

The Lobero Ghostlight Society is proud to present an Artistic Luminary Award to Charles Lloyd in honor of his contributions to the genres of jazz and American roots music Friday, Jan. 8, 2016, with guest artist and emcee, jazz guitarist John Pizzarelli. 

The Ghostlight Society is delighted to give this inaugural award to a Santa Barbara local and a true legend in the international jazz community.

Charles Lloyd was born March 15, 1938, in Memphis, Tenn. Like Memphis’s rich cultural and musical heritage, Lloyd's ancestry of African, Cherokee, Mongolian and Irish cultures reflects a similarly rich inheritance.

He was given his first saxophone at the age of 9 and found himself riveted to 1940s radio broadcasts by Charlie Parker, Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young, Billie Holiday and Duke Ellington.

Classical music also exerted a strong pull on the young Lloyd. In 1956 he left Memphis for Los Angeles to earn his master's in music at USC, where he studied with Halsey Stevens, a foremost Bartók authority.

While his days were spent in academia, Lloyd spent nights getting educated on the job in L.A.'s jazz clubs, playing with Ornette Coleman, Billy Higgins, Charlie Haden, Eric Dolphy, Bobby Hutcherson and other leading west coast jazz artists. 

Lloyd joined the Cannonball Adderley Sextet in 1964, and performed alongside Nat Adderley, Joe Zawinul, Sam Jones and Louis Hayes. He remained with Cannonball for two years, and to this day continues to acknowledge the important role it played in his own development as a leader.

Lloyd left Cannonball Adderley in 1965 to form his own quartet, which was a brilliant ensemble that introduced the jazz world to the talents of pianist Keith Jarrett, drummer Jack DeJohnette and bassist Cecil McBee.

Their first release together was a studio recording, Dream Weaver, followed by Forest Flower: Live at Monterey in 1966. 

Forest Flower made history as one of the first jazz recordings to sell a million copies, and the album's firsts continued as it became a stunning crossover success that appealed to a popular mass market audiences and gained heavy airplay on FM radio.

The quartet was the first jazz group to appear at the famed Fillmore Auditorium in San Francisco and other rock palaces, sharing billings with Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Cream, the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane.

 In 1967 Charles Lloyd was voted "Jazz Artist of the Year" by DownBeat magazine.

Then at the height of his career in the early 1970s, Lloyd disbanded the quartet and dropped from sight, withdrawing to pursue an inner journey in Big Sur, the wild haven that had previously attracted other artists and seekers including Robinson Jeffers, Langston Hughes, Henry Miller, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Jack Kerouac, Jean Varda and Jaime DeAngulo.

It wasn't until 1981 that Lloyd moved to break a decade of silence in the jazz world, when a remarkable 18-year-old French pianist, Michel Petrucciani, arrived in Big Sur.

Lloyd was compelled to help introduce this gifted artist to the world. June 1981 was when he made his first of many performances on the Lobero stage, followed by extensive touring in the U.S., Europe and Japan. In the past decade, he has graced the Lobero stage on a nearly annually basis.

In 1986, after being hospitalized with a nearly fatal medical condition, Lloyd rededicated himself to music. When he regained his strength in 1988 he formed a new quartet with the renowned Swedish pianist Bobo Stenson.

Lloyd made his first recording for ECM Records, Fish Out of Water, in 1989. The project marked the beginning of a new wave of Lloyd compositions and recordings.

More than twenty years later, he is still with ECM, and still in search of the sound and the truth. In 2014 Lloyd was honored as a Monterey Jazz Festival Jazz Legend, and in 2015 he received the NEA JazzMaster Award. In January 2016, he will become the Lobero Theatre’s first Artistic Luminary.

Charles Lloyd maintains an active performance and recording schedule with the New Quartet (featuring Jason Moran, Reuben Rogers and Eric Harland) and Sangam (with Eric Harland and Zakir Hussain).

He has been writing an opera about the life and trial of his grandfather, Ben Ingram, and collaborates with poets Charles Simic, Michael McClure and Kamau Daaood.

The dedicated members of the Lobero Ghostlight Society carry on the commitment originally made in 1924 by a core group of donors responsible for rebuilding the Lobero Theatre in order to provide a lasting home for live performance in Santa Barbara.

By pledging their time, talent and treasure to keep the light of live performance on in the Lobero, these leaders in the community embrace their vital role in keeping the arts alive and accessible for the community at large.

Named for a theatrical tradition dating back to Shakespeare’s old globe, the ghostlight is a bare bulb atop a rudimentary pole which stands at center stage, lit by the last person to leave the theater each night and extinguished by the first to arrive in the morning. Though stark in stature and artless in form, the ghostlight fulfills many functions, both practical and supernatural. For over 140 years the Lobero lamp has served as beacon to keep creative spirits company from curtain-down to curtain-up.

The Luminaries of the Ghostlight Society are a spark of brilliance, not only for the Lobero stage but also for the entire performing arts community in Santa Barbara.

The society honors the individuals whose passion and commitment provide for the artistry that illuminates our stage. The Ghostlight Society has recognized the following individuals as Luminaries: Lillian & Jon Lovelace, Anne & Michael Towbes, Lyn & David Anderson and Baroness Leni Fe Bland.

The Lobero Ghostlight Society is the Lobero Theatre’s premier giving circle. Its strong and steady support illuminates behind-the-scenes efforts and, like the steadfast bulb at center stage, keeps the vibrant theater from ever going dark. Learn more at Lobero.com.

Angie Bertucci represents the Lobero Theatre.


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