*** Charles Lloyd, "Notes From Big Sur," ECM. The idiosyncratic tenor saxophonist is finally back on the scene after many years' absence and here delivers a remarkable album that has plenty of spark, yet in a subdued way. Tender pieces, like the seductive "Requiem" and the taken-at-a-crawl "Takur," make up most of the program, though "Sam Song" and "Monk in Paris" have more heat. The leader's lines flow with a charming sense of grace and ease, and his tone glows like pale pastel lampshades in a dusky-lit room. Pianist Bo Stenson is an ideal foil, fitting in deft, telling statements, and drummer Ralph Peterson shines, displaying his sensitive side.

New albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor), two stars (fair), three stars (good) and four stars (excellent).

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