Charles Lloyd Credit: D. Darr

At 79, Charles Lloyd has taken part in a major chunk of modern jazz history. He’s called himself a “sound seeker,” and during the 60s and early 70s he became an inheritor of John Coltrane’s spiritual yearning, his sinewy tenor sax casting a veneer of calm over roiling arrangements. More recently, in a stunning late-career renaissance, he’s melded meditative beauty with burning soulfulness, and last year he further demonstrated his refusal to coast with the release of I Long to See You (Blue Note), a simmering knockout recorded with a combo he calls the Marvels. If that name suggests a rock band, you’re at least partly right: the album opens with a cover of Bob Dylan’s classic protest song “Masters of War” and includes a version of Joe Cocker’s “You Are So Beautiful” (sung by Norah Jones) as well as the pop-folk antiwar song “Last Night I Had the Strangest Dream” with Willie Nelson. Lloyd’s front-line partners are guitarist Bill Frisell and steel guitarist Greg Leisz, who’s best known for his peerless session work in rock and country. The group also plays gorgeous versions of traditional pieces like “Shenandoah” and the Mexican folk ballad “La Llorona,” and there’s even a terse arrangement of the spiritual “Abide With Me,” which famously opens the Thelonious Monk classic Monk’s Music. But Lloyd hasn’t embraced fusion. The front line interweaves lines that are as vulnerable as they are wiry and muscular, and often does so at a patient clip, Lloyd’s longtime rhythm section of bassist Reuben Rogers and drummer Eric Harland playing in slow motion without a wobble. I Long to See You stands as one of the loveliest albums of 2016.   v