Charles Lloyd Quartet: Mirror (2010)

Restraint can be more powerful than flexed muscles. This has long been the credo of saxophonist Charles Lloyd. At 72, he’s mellower than ever, yet his music manages to reach deeper. His jazz is meditative, spiritual, and in his new quartet he has found a group of like-minded individuals — pianist Jason Moran, bassist Reuben Rogers, and drummer Eric Harland. “Mirror’’ is this group’s second album but its first studio effort. For the session, Lloyd gathered a diverse group of tunes — standards, hymns, originals, and even a pop song — and made them cohere. Sometimes, as with “I Fall in Love Too Easily,’’ Lloyd feels no obligation to state the melody overtly. But sometimes, as with the Thelonious Monk ballads “Monk’s Mood’’ and “Ruby, My Dear,’’ the melody is crucial to the performance. Even when the group gets slightly funky, during “The Water Is Wide,’’ Lloyd’s tone remains soft and rounded; Moran, however, lets loose with a seriously bluesy solo. The set’s most surprising number is a cover of the Beach Boys hit “Caroline, No.’’ Lloyd and Moran alternately carry the melody, and then improvise way off it, while Harland plays skittering polyrhythms and Rogers keeps it all anchored. What’s not surprising is that a Lloyd-led group can make the song sound like a jazz standard. (~Steve Greenlee, The Boston Globe, 13 September 2010)
01 - I Fall in Love Too Easily (Sammy Cahn, Jule Styne) 5:00
02 - Go Down Moses (Traditional) 5:59
03 - Desolation Sound (Charles Lloyd) 7:03
04 - La Llorona (Traditional) 5:35
05 - Caroline, No (Brian Wilson, Tony Asher) 4:02
06 - Monk's Mood (Thelonious Monk) 5:01
07 - Mirror (Charles Lloyd) 6:42
08 - Ruby, My Dear (Thelonious Monk) 5:25
09 - The Water Is Wide (Traditional) 7:19
10 - Lift Every Voice and Sing (James Weldon Johnson, J. Rosamond Johnson) 4:29
11 - Being and Becoming (Charles Lloyd) 7:02
12 - Tagi (Charles Lloyd) 9:17
[Total time: 72:54]
Charles Lloyd: tenor and alto saxophones, voice;
Jason Moran: piano;
Reuben Rogers: bass;
Eric Harland: drums.
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