Sunday, September 19, 2010

Charles Lloyd - Mirror (ECM Records, 2010)

As saxophonist Charles Lloyd moves into his third decade with ECM records, he does so with an excellent and well respected band including Jason Moran on piano, Ruben Rogers on bass and Eric Harland on drums. The music is a thoughtful and meditative mix of spirituals, originals and a couple of Thelonious Monk covers. Loyd is a deeply spiritual man, and finds great solace in hymns like "Go Down Moses" which features his slow saxophone developing over deep rhythm. Rogers' bowed bass and a cool drum beat give the music a deep and processional feel. Lloyd develops a tone of nostalgia and longing that is quite affecting. He has covered "The Water Is Wide" previously and this is another effective version with deep bass and piano forming a great groove. Patient saxophone builds to a duet section with bass. "Lift Every Voice and Sing" has fine drumming with light saxophone, developing to a collective improvisation with a skittish feel. The fast improvisation develops to an intense near free section. The Monk tunes are a joy to listen to, with Lloyd caressing the melody to "Monk's Mood" backed by strong bass, brushes and piano accents. Everyone sounds confident and patient on "Ruby, My Dear" with strong and thoughtful bass and saxophone leading the way. There are hinds to Coltrane in Lloyd's tone here and they add a nice darkness and light dynamic to a subtle, thoughtful performance. The original "Being And Becoming, Road To Dakshineshwar With Sangeeta" develops a lush and evocative piano, bass and drums pocket for Lloyd to glide over building to a strong sax and drums feature before downshifting to a soft and gentle conclusion. This is a well done album that reveals its secrets slowly over repeated listening. There's noting flashy about the music here, just a well centered quartet that has a vision for the music that they are seeking and a commitment to see the journey through. Mirror - amazon.com

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