Charles Lloyd's Mirror is an intensely personal almost autobiographical work. This is apparent from the opener, a deconstructing of the standard "I Fall in Love Too Easily," where the saxophonist's urgent and pleading tone accurately conveys the feeling of unrequited love. The first track bleeds into the next, the traditional gospel tune "Go Down Moses," rearranged by the leader. His altobacked by Eric Harland's pulsatile drumming, Reuben Rogers' arco bass and Jason Moran's sparse pianocreates a dense, spiritual atmosphere. Moran assumes the double role of frontline partner and leader of the rhythm section, and pulls it off admirably.
"Desolation Sound" and "Mirror" are Lloyd originals that are a bit more traditional in their constructs, but his improvisations remain richly textured, blending pieces of blues and funk into a more freely improvised sound; true, in fact, for the record as a whole. The Latin-tinged "La Liorona," reminiscent of sunsets over the desert, the Zen-like "Being and Becoming..," especially Moran's circular improvisations, and the Indian-influenced "Tagi," that starts with Lloyd reciting a spiritual poem, are all nods to his past forays into world music, yet they are undeniably and firmly rooted in the jazz idiom. The Beach Boys' "Caroline, No," with its funky beats and slow groove, is a jazzy tribute to the saxophonist's time in the pop band during the 1970s, while the two spirituals"Go Down Moses" and "The Water is Wide" (with Rogers' walking bass setting the moodhearken to his early influences, while the Thelonious Monk tunes are more in line with his progressive post-bop days of the early 1960s.
Moran, more than Keith Jarrett or the European pianists Lloyd has played with in recent decades, complements and enhances the leader's musicianship. Despite his relative youth, the pianist has integrated the musical influences of various trailblazing pianists into a unique style that continues to explore uncharted territories. Fellow Texan, Harland, is uniquely suited for this deep spiritual session, and the versatile Rogers tastefully grounds the music and stands out with his fresh ideas and angular and unexpected solos.
With Mirrors, master saxophonist Lloyd has created his most mature and most accomplished work yet. Though heavily atmospheric, it is not ambient music; rather, it is a multilayered musical opus to savor anew with each listen.
I Fall in Love Too Easily (For Lily); Go Down Moses; Desolation Sound; La Llorona; Caroline, No; Monk's Mood; Mirror; Ruby, My Dear; The Water is Wide; Life Every Voice and Sing; Being and Becoming, Road to Dakshineswar With Sangeeta; Tagi.
Charles Lloyd: tenor and alto saxophones, voice; Jason Moran: piano; Reuben Rogers: bass; Eric Harland: drums.
A young artist exhibits his work for the first time. An art critic is in attendance. The critic says, "would you like my opinion on your work?" "Yes," says the artist. "It's worthless," says the critic. The artist replies "I know, but tell me anyway."