Tone Poem is the third album by Charles Lloyd & The Marvels, the genre-straddling quintet that features the master saxophonist with Bill Frisell on guitar, Greg Leisz on pedal steel guitar, Reuben Rogers on bass, and Eric Harland on drums. The nine dynamic tracks here include new Lloyd originals along with pieces by Ornette Coleman, Thelonious Monk, Leonard Cohen, Gabor Szabo, and Bola de Nieve.
The vinyl edition of the album will be the first new release to be featured as part of the acclaimed Tone Poet Audiophile Vinyl Series with the vinyl supervised by Joe Harley, mastered by Kevin Gray, pressed at RTI, and packaged in a deluxe Stoughton Printing gatefold tip-on jacket. Fittingly, it was Lloyd who first dubbed Harley the "Tone Poet."
The Blue Note Tone Poet Series was born out of Blue Note President Don Was's admiration for the exceptional audiophile Blue Note LP reissues presented by Music Matters. Was brought Joe Harley (from Music Matters), a.k.a. the "Tone Poet," on board to curate and supervise a series of reissues from the Blue Note family of labels.
The musician's sensitivity and spiritual empathy are redolent....While the singers on earlier Marvels albums offered ready accessibility, Tone Poem is perhaps more resonant given its consummate musicality and masterful tune curation. -Thom Jurek, AllMusic.com, 4/5 stars
Breeze-swaying, meditative, and, for the most part, extremely satisfying. Unlike most Tone Poet albums, it was recorded in digital, but it sounds very good anyway. Lloyd's saxophone and flute are upfront and 3D, and his tones - at once muscular and sweet (he sounds much more youthful than his 83 years) - billow forth in bushels of air. The familiar twang of Frisell's guitar also seems right there. Rogers's bass is a bit loose, which may just be his style. Harland's drum kit is spread out too wide across the soundstage for my taste, though his propulsive subtleties are otherwise well captured. -Fred Kaplan, Stereophile, June 2021