Now into his early seventies, Charles Lloyd finds himself fronting one of the hottest jazz quartets currently working the circuit, and with Mirror has produced one of the most highly rated albums of the year.
Combining material from several influential sources throughout his career, Lloyd and his band give equal weight and respect on this CD to material from Thelonious Monk, Brian Wilson and Sammy Cahn. There's also a heavy gospel and spiritual influence at work, with some Lloyd originals making the album really something special.
The playing is sublime throughout, with Moran, Rogers and Harland setting down some first-class backing for Lloyd to explore on sax. Where some of the songs are teasing and probing in equal measure, the sheer joy of music making comes over in others, notably on the spiritual influenced: "The Water is Wide".
Perhaps though, it's the very last track on this magnificent album that captures the essence of the music best, and says lots about where Lloyd is right now in terms of life and career. "Tagi", a 9 minute spoken meditation from Lloyd, finds him reflecting on the spirituality of things. It's done to some truly outstanding bass work from Rogers, before the rest of the band climb aboard to play out the haunting refrains of the masterly track. It really does stay in the mind long after the CD has finished.
With typically crisp production values from ECM, this is music of the highest order, and something that Lloyd fans old and new will want to discover.