Charles Lloyd Quartet

CD18,90 out of print

Charles Lloyd has always led exceptional bands, and this is one of the finest. Following on from the live “Rabo de Nube” which won both the Readers and Critics Polls of Jazz Times, here is a studio album from the quartet with Jason Moran, Reuben Rogers and Eric Harland. Familiar material is reappraised and transformed in this session recorded in California in December 2009. Tracks include new versions of “Desolation Sound”, “Go Down Moses”, “Lift Every Voice”, and “The Water is Wide”. There are also a couple of superb Thelonious Monk covers, “Ruby, My Dear” and “Monks Mood” and a beautiful, free arrangement of the Beach Boys’ “Caroline No”. Throughout, the interaction between piano, bass and drums is fleet and fluid: Lloyd’s saxophones float poetically above it.

Featured Artists Recorded

December 2009, Santa Barbara Sound Design

Original Release Date


  • 1I Fall in Love Too Easily
    (Sammy Cahn, Jule Styne)
  • 2Go Down Moses
  • 3Desolation Sound
    (Charles Lloyd)
  • 4La Llorona
  • 5Caroline, No
    (Brian Wilson, Tony Asher)
  • 6Monk's Mood
    (Thelonious Monk)
  • 7Mirror
    (Charles Lloyd)
  • 8Ruby, My Dear
    (Thelonious Monk)
  • 9The Water Is Wide
  • 10Lift Every Voice And Sing
  • 11Being And Becoming, Road To Dakshineswar With Sangeeta
    (Charles Lloyd)
  • 12Tagi
    (Charles Lloyd)

“Charles is playing really beautiful,” Ornette Coleman says, in the documentary film “The Monk and the Mermaid”. “He’s expressing the qualities of what we experience. Trying to make a contribution to the quality of life, to do with knowledge.” The knowledge, experience, or wisdom conveyed through Lloyd’s tender saxophone soliloquies has drawn great musicians to him over the decades, and contributed to a reputation as one of the most insightful band leaders in all of jazz. Those qualities are reflected once more in “Mirror”, which is perhaps as succinct a portrait of Charles Lloyd’s music as can be embraced by a single disc.

“Charles approaches the music with such openness”, pianist Jason Moran said recently. “I like playing with leaders who let you bring what you’ve got to the table, and interpret the music however you’d like. Charles is a great promoter of free-thinking music, and letting it develop on the spot.”

“Mirror” is the first studio album by the Lloyd-Moran-Rogers-Harland unit and it features beautiful, transformed versions of favourites 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”.

There is plenty of Lloyd’s graceful, mellifluous and poetic tenor sax: We also get to hear some of his rarely-showcased alto saxophone, the instrument that Billy Higgins called Charles’ “secret weapon”.

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.

The band plays superbly. Interaction between Jason Moran and the elastic rhythm section of Harland and Rogers is agile and alert in every moment. None of these three players, completely in tune with Lloyd’s way of working, was 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.