Many critics have opined that Lloyd's "New Quartet", with Jason Moran, Reuben Rogers and Eric Harland may be the best of all his groups. The quartet's previous release in this line-up, the live-recorded Rabo de Nube, met with across-the-board approval and was voted #1 album of the year in both the Critics and Readers Polls of Jazz Times.
Mirror is the first studio album by the Lloyd-Moran-Rogers-Harland unit and it features beautiful, transformed versions of favorites including both Lloyd originals and tunes Charles has made his own over the years. There is a pair of Thelonious Monk tunes, "Ruby, My Dear" and "Monk's Mood", as well as hymns and traditionals including "Go Down Moses", "Lift Every Voice And Sing", and "The Water Is Wide". Lloyd covers Brian Wilson's' "Caroline, No" (the saxophonist guested on several Beach Boys albums in the 70s, including the classic "Surf's Up"), and plays an achingly lovely version of the standard "I Fall in Love Too Easily". Lloyd originals include "Desolation Sound", "Mirror", "Tagi" (which includes a Bhagavad Gita inspired spoken-word meditation by Lloyd) and "Being and Becoming".
The band plays superbly. Interaction between Jason Moran and the elastic rhythm section of Harland and Rogers is agile and alert in every moment. While each of these three players is completely in tune with Lloyd's way of working, none of them had yet been born when Charles had his idiomatic breakthrough with "Forest Flower" in 1967. Moran recalls that his father encouraged him to listen to Forest Flower when he was just starting to check out jazz, and the album was part of the soundtrack of his childhood.
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