Soul Jazz Records are releasing flautist Lloyd McNeill’s album Treasures (1976). Originally released on the artist's own private press Baobab label in New York, the album is a serious collectors’ piece, a heavyweight and fascinating fusion of deep and spiritual jazz sensibilities blended with Brazilian and Latin rhythms and melodies.
Lloyd McNeill is a cultural polymath – a multi-disciplinarian flautist, painter, academic, poet, and photographer – who as a musician has worked with everyone from Mulatu to Nina Simone, Eric Dolphy and Nana Vasconceles (and as a painter was befriended by Picasso!). McNeill grew up during the era of the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s and his life and work is a reflection of those ideals. All of his music was only ever released on his own private-press record label, echoing the Civil Rights and African-American themes of the era – black economic empowerment and self-sufficiency – and there is a beautiful spirituality in all his music.
In the late 1960s McNeill became teacher of both jazz and painting at the New Thing Art and Architecture Center in Washington and in 1969 was the first African-American professor hired to teach African-American Music History, at Rutgers University. According to McNeill, "The course was a scholarly attempt to trace the roots of the music of African-American cultures in the diaspora (including North and South America) of the African Peoples taken from West Africa and brought to the so-called New Worlds as slaves."
As part of these academic studies McNeill travelled extensively throughout Brazil between 1971-76, studying Afro-Brazilian music. On his first trip to Brazil he met the pianist Dom Salvador, leader of the fusion group Aboliçao and over the next few years worked with many Brazilian musicians including the guitarist Paulinho da Viola, saxophonist Paolo Moura, and singer Martinho da Villa. On his return to New York in 1973 he formed a regular and fluid live group that included Brazilian players Dom Salvador, Nana Vasconceles, Portinho as well as many heavyweight jazz musicians such as Ron Carter, Cecil McBee, Marcus Miller, Charlie Rouse, Bob Cranshaw and many more. Treasures was the culmination of this intense period for McNeill fusing Brazilian, jazz and Latin sensibilities together.
The album features McNeill on flute, Cecil McBee on bass, Dom Salvador on piano and three percussionists – the Brazilian multi-instrumentalist Portinho, Latin percussionist Ray Armando and jazz drummer Brian Brake.