340

Charles Lloyd Quartet: Mirror

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
Charles Lloyd Quartet: Mirror Sometimes the trust in knowing can yield more than the excitement of uncharted territory. Charles Lloyd ratchets down the energy from Rabo De Nube (ECM, 2008), one of the most exciting, free-wheeling albums and new groups of the saxophonist's half century career. Relying on the quartet's increasingly profound chemistry—and mostly recycled material rather than Rabo's largely new set of originals—Lloyd continues his upward trajectory; his intrinsically spiritual nature a moving force behind an album somewhat reminiscent of The Water is Wide (ECM, 2000). The Water is Wide's multigenerational quintet of established greats and stars-in-the-making, however, culled low-keyed material from a longer recording session that also yielded the energetic follow-up, Hyperion with Higgins (ECM, 2001). Instead, Mirror teams Lloyd with three active, thirty-something musicians on the vanguard of 21st Century American jazz.

Garnering plenty of attention for his own records, Jason Moran has proven an even more astute sideman, in particular for his recent work with Lloyd and ECM label-mate Paul Motian, whose Lost in a Dream (2010), shed new light on the pianist's mélange of Thelonious Monk-ian angularity, free-wheeling improvisational extremes, and lyrical impressionism. He brings the same sensibility to Mirror, but its general emphasis on ballads, and ambling swing creates a different set of extemporaneous demands, though he does fly into more outré space on a far more powerful and open-ended version of the traditional "Lift Every Voice and Sing" than on Lift Every Voice (ECM, 2002), and "Being and Becoming," from Which Way is East (ECM, 2004), Lloyd's intimate duo album with Billy Higgins, recorded shortly before the iconic drummer's passing in 2001.

Positioned near Mirror's conclusion, these tracks contrast powerfully with Lloyd's title track—originally on his 1989 ECM debut, Fish Out of Water, but delivered here with a touch more energy and plenty more commitment—and an equally direct look at "Desolation Sound," from Canto (ECM, 1994). Throughout Lloyd's previously visited originals, traditional spirituals (The Water is Wide's title track, here, going straight to church) and standards, Harland and bassist Reuben Rogers propel the music with more egalitarian interest. Two Monk tunes—the balladic "Ruby, My Dear" and rubato "Monk's Mood"—demonstrate Moran's inescapable roots, while Lloyd turns "Caroline, No," from The Beach Boys' classic Pet Sounds (Capitol, 1966), into a thing of simmering beauty.

Saving the best for last, Lloyd's gentle narration on Which Way is East's "Tagi"—layered over a backdrop of Rogers' arco and Moran's impressionistic pianism—is nothing short of transcendental. Ebbing and flowing with spiritual profundity, Lloyd turns to saxophone for a modal solo driven by Harland's intensifying pulse, before the quartet dissolves for a tranquil coda, bringing Mirror full circle.

While not turning entirely away from the Rabo De Nube's unfettered freedom, Mirror's greatest success is its quartet's palpably growing sense of trust, allowing the freedom to explore without the compulsion to resort to the obvious or the melodramatic. Instead, the smallest gestures become amplified, as Mirror continues to bolster Lloyd's latest ensemble as one of the best—and certainly the freest—of his long career.

Track Listing: 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.

Personnel: Charles Lloyd: tenor and alto saxophones, voice; Jason Moran: piano; Reuben Rogers: bass; Eric Harland: drums.

Title: Mirror | Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: ECM Records


Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Towards Language CD/LP/Track Review Towards Language
by John Eyles
Published: June 23, 2017
Read The Romeo and Juliet Project CD/LP/Track Review The Romeo and Juliet Project
by Jack Bowers
Published: June 23, 2017
Read Saluting Sgt. Pepper CD/LP/Track Review Saluting Sgt. Pepper
by Roger Farbey
Published: June 23, 2017
Read Crystal Machine CD/LP/Track Review Crystal Machine
by Glenn Astarita
Published: June 23, 2017
Read Saluting Sgt. Pepper CD/LP/Track Review Saluting Sgt. Pepper
by Karl Ackermann
Published: June 22, 2017
Read Thick as Thieves CD/LP/Track Review Thick as Thieves
by Jack Bowers
Published: June 22, 2017
Read "Chance Meeting" CD/LP/Track Review Chance Meeting
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 28, 2016
Read "Live InTokyo" CD/LP/Track Review Live InTokyo
by Mark Corroto
Published: July 12, 2016
Read "Steeped" CD/LP/Track Review Steeped
by John Eyles
Published: October 20, 2016
Read "2468 West Grand Boulevard" CD/LP/Track Review 2468 West Grand Boulevard
by Rob Rosenblum
Published: December 27, 2016
Read "Still Happy" CD/LP/Track Review Still Happy
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: July 11, 2016
Read "Truth, Liberty & Soul Live in New York: The Complete NPR Jazz Alive! Recording" CD/LP/Track Review Truth, Liberty & Soul Live in New York: The Complete...
by John Kelman
Published: May 20, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.