There was critical consensus that 2008's "Rabo de Nube" was a very special beast and the summation of Lloyd's art over the last decade. "Mirror" is the first studio recording by the same quartet and has yielded, if anything, more ecstatic reviews bar one from a very non-plussed and let-down lover of "Rabo de Nube". If truth be told, "Mirror" is not quite the masterpiece advocated but much much better than the dissenter's protest.
A quick look at the track listing is not overly encouraging. Three of the tracks have appeared on Lloyd's releases in the last decade and the proliferation of standards suggests a lack of inspiration. However, the opening notes of "I Fall in Love Too Easily" dispel any such doubts, Lloyd's alto beautifully winding its way round the melodic, restrained and doleful bass of Reuben Rogers. "Desolation Sound" sounds initially like Coltrane's "Naima" before revealing it as worthy of the jazz firmament as "Monk's Mood" or "Ruby, My Dear" which appear elsewhere.
Although Lloyd's flute playing is conspicuously (and sadly) absent, his saxes sing with a richness, maturity and vitality. For anyone who has seen him live, Eric Harland's drumming is pretty restrained throughout, but there is still plenty of snap and crackle as he plays with a skittish sensibility reminiscent of Jon Christenson. Jason Moran's piano playing is always elegant and colourful but, for me, Rogers steals the sidemen's show, displaying great versatility. The intensity and edge increase with the final three tracks - a deconstructed "Lift Every Voice and Sing", the wonderful "Being and Becoming, Road To Dakshineswar With Sangeeta" and the possibly even better "Tagi" full of the Indian feel reminiscent of many of Lloyd's releases as Lloyd narrates a poem over wonderful bowed lines from Rogers. It is a climatic feeling to a great album which, for all that it does not quite heat the peaks of its predecessor, is highly recommended.