Recorded a year after Ciao Bella, The Mirror With a Memory takes the ideas presented in Talking Pictures' first CD and brings them to a fruitful conclusion. Ron Samworth's quartet uses the same recipe of short collective improvisations alternating with avant-garde jazz compositions. This time around, the written pieces tend to include more pockets of improvisation and rely less on tonal heads. The album is therefore less "listener friendly," but gains a stronger artistic proposition, making it the kind of CD one comes back to regularly with ever-renewed pleasure. "The Real Professionals" is a three-part piece of jazz-rock-gone-free madness, ending on a solid riff in 6/4. It recalls once again the playful avant-garde jazz of Jean Derome et les Dangereux Zhoms and René Lussier's late-'80s/early-'90s projects. On "Drool," guitarist Samworth forays into the classical references made available by Peggy Lee's cello. As on the previous album, most of the compositions are penned by the leader, except for two by trumpeter Bill Clark. His "Ligeti Western" is the unlikely conjunction of the Hungarian composer and Ennio Morricone's worlds. Both camps are represented by cello and trumpet respectively in this tragicomic tour de force. A must-have for the avant-garde jazz fan, The Mirror With a Memory marks the pinnacle of Talking Pictures' creative years, since afterwards the group will only remain active as an interpretation unit, its members pouring their creative forces into their own projects.
AllMusic Review by François Couture