Entries tagged with “Brad Mehldau”.


My monthly list of recommended CDs, as published in The New York City Jazz Record, March 2014:

Steve Cardenas, Melody in a Dream (Sunnyside)

Eli Degibri, Twelve (Plus Loin)

Jozef Dumoulin, A Fender Rhodes Solo (BEE Jazz)

Vijay Iyer, Mutations (ECM)

Mehliana, Taming the Dragon (Nonesuch)

Catherine Russell, Bring It Back (Jazz Village)

My monthly list of recommended CDs, as published in The New York City Jazz Record, April 2012:

Josh Ginsburg, Zembla Variations (BJU)

Billy Hart, All Our Reasons (ECM)

Brad Mehldau Trio, Ode (Nonesuch)

Michael Musillami Trio + 4, Mettle (Playscape)

Gregory Porter, Be Good (Motéma)

Ben Wendel, Frame (Sunnyside)

My monthly list of recommended CDs, as published in The New York City Jazz Record, November 2011:

The Claudia Quintet + 1, What Is the Beautiful? (Cuneiform)

Amir ElSaffar, Inana (Pi)

Joel Frahm Quartet, Live at Smalls (Smalls Live)

Brad Mehldau, Kevin Hays & Patrick Zimmerli, Modern Music (Nonesuch)

Ted Rosenthal Trio, Out of This World (Playscape)

Tony Malaby’s Novela (Clean Feed)

My monthly list of recommended CDs, as published in The New York City Jazz Record, June 2011:

Stacy Dillard, Good and Bad Memories (Criss Cross)

Konitz/Mehldau/Haden/Motian, Live at Birdland (ECM)

Orchestre National de Jazz/Daniel Yvinec, Shut Up and Dance (BEE Jazz)

Matana Roberts, Live in London (Central Control)

Adam Rudolph’s Moving Pictures with Organic Orchestra Strings, Both/And (Meta)

Bobby Selvaggio, Grass Roots Movement (Arabesque)

This review appears in the March 2011 issue of The New York City Jazz Record (formerly All About Jazz-New York).

Brad Mehldau
Live in Marciac (Nonesuch)

By David R. Adler

Brad Mehldau’s 2010 release Highway Rider, a sweeping orchestral double-album, was muddled in some respects, but one thing was clear: It was hardly intended as a bravura piano showcase. That’s why Live in Marciac seems so well timed (forget the fact that it was recorded in August 2006). Here we get all piano and plenty bravura — two discs of Mehldau unaccompanied in concert, along with a DVD of the same show. The camera work is engrossing, far better than a front-row seat if one wants to study Mehldau’s lightning-quick polyphony and sharply honed improvisational logic.

Mehldau’s solo playing on record dates back to Elegaic Cycle in 1999 and Live in Tokyo in 2004. One of the rewards of Live in Marciac is the chance to hear him revisit “Trailer Park Ghost,” “Goodbye Storyteller” and “Resignation” from the first solo disc, pushing all of them beyond what they were. An optional DVD feature lets us view Philippe André’s full transcription of “Resignation” as it scrolls horizontally in time with the audio. The density and flowing spontaneity of the counterpoint is beautiful not just to hear, but also to watch. If we return to the band version of “Resignation” from Mehldau’s 2001 live album Progression: The Art of the Trio, Volume 5, we can all the more appreciate the contrast between his solo and trio languages.

Winding down with “My Favorite Things” and Bobby Timmons’ classic “Dat Dere” (the latter omitted from the DVD), Mehldau tips his hat to jazz of early ’60s vintage. But he also finds inspiration in pop and rock, moving directly from Nick Drake’s “Things Behind the Sun” into a playful, bouncy treatment of Nirvana’s “Lithium” (quite unlike the Bad Plus’s vocal version from 2008’s For All I Care). Among the ballads are “Secret Love,” rendered almost as a Metheny-esque folk song, and “Lilac Wine,” which departs for a surprising moment into “Dear Mr. Fantasy.”

Much like Bad Plus pianist Ethan Iverson, Mehldau has crafted a coherent, personal voice across a wide-ranging repertoire, often looking to classical as well as jazz tradition for aesthetic guidance. Even on jazz standards such as Cole Porter’s “It’s Alright With Me,” Mehldau’s playing is marked by virtuosic crossed-hands passages, High Romantic flourishes and other semi-classical devices, along with splashes of blues tonality, all in a spirit of open-ended invention. Though he’s making waves now as a capital-c Composer (he’s the first jazz musician to hold the Richard and Barbara Debs Composer’s Chair at Carnegie Hall), Mehldau proves on Live in Marciac that sometimes the most epic orchestrations can happen alone and on the fly.