The rich, peripatetic new Charles Lloyd disc, Mirror, features three Lloyd originals, transformations of two Monk tunes, an unrecognizably complex version of the Beach Boys’ “Caroline, No” and Lloyd’s jazz treatments of the gospel staples “Go Down Moses” and “The Water Is Wide.” The band is fabulous in its understatement, no oxymoron intended: Jason Moran plays restrained, pointed piano, bassist Reuben Rogers anchors and pulsates, and drummer Eric Harland lays back, kindling the leader’s disarmingly low and expressive saxophone flame.
While the standards are impressive, Lloyd’s originals are at least as organic and more experimental. A clear highlight is the lovely, impressionistic “Being and Becoming.” Moran and Harland frame the piece brick by musical brick, paving the way for a hortatory Lloyd solo that joins the listener to the journey the tune aims to portray. (The back of the title is “Road to Dakshineswar With Sangeeta,” in reference to a temple in Bengal.) Another is “La Llorona,” Lloyd’s arrangement of a melody memorializing the sorrow of a woman who has killed her children to be with a man she loves. Lloyd’s tenor aches, Moran’s piano throbs with tremolo and the rhythm section is appropriately stately, underlining the sense of duende at the heart of the song.
Contemplative and melodic, Mirror finds Lloyd equally authoritative and open, nothing musical left to prove. Whether it’s his tenor on “La Llorona” or his alto on a sweetly ruminative interpretation of “I Fall in Love Too Easily,” Lloyd takes elegant, expert time. His bandmates, far younger than the saxophonist, match him in musical wisdom.