For half a century master saxophonist Charles Lloyd has been one of the most insightful band leaders in all of jazz, encouraging great players to give of their best. The artistic level maintained by his bands has been astonishing – from the legendary ‘Forest Flower’ quartet of the 60s all the way through to today. “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 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.”
As the New York Times once observed, Jason Moran reaches both further back in the jazz tradition and further outside it than most of his contemporaries. His strongly chordal approach and his percussive originality took off from an early interest in Thelonious Monk, but Moran (born in 1975) studied with three great teachers – Jaki Byard, Andrew Hill, and Muhal Richard Abrams – who encouraged him to find his own path. He has recorded a number of critically-acclaimed albums as a leader, won a number of prizes including the Jazz Journalists Association’s Pianist of the Year Award, and performed with many great musicians from Wayne Shorter to Lee Konitz.
Reuben Rogers was born in the Virgin Islands and grew up listening to calypso and reggae as well as jazz, exposure that seems to have impacted on the lyrical dancing swing of his bass playing. He works exceptionally well with Harland, exploring loose grooves behind Lloyd ’s solos, and speaks of the joy of “being in the music in the moment,” when the Lloyd band is improvising collectively, “without any worries, just giving it all.” A much sought after sideman, Reuben has also worked extensively with Nicholas Payton, Joshua Redman, Dianne Reeves and more.
Eric Harland is increasingly regarded as one of the most important contemporary jazz drummers. In addition to his work with Lloyd in the quartet and in the Sangam trio (with Zakir Hussain) he has played and recorded with McCoy Tyner, Pharoah Sanders, Greg Osby, Dave Holland and many others.