Brad Mehldau: Anything Goes (2004)
With Anything Goes a more mature, reflective Brad Mehldau is back where he started almost seven years ago with his trio soulmates, Jorge Rossy (drums) and Larry Grenadier (bass). On their sixth trio disc, there aren’t any original tunes, but Mehldau is at his best expanding old favorites such as “Nearness of You,” “Anything Goes” and “I’ve Grown Accustomed to Her Face.” He’s improved upon his old tricks of extracting harmony, gently changing tempo, and playing loose with time signatures; his excellent rhythm section, especially Grenadier’s strong bass lines, gives him the foundation and freedom to explore and improvise as he chooses. It all adds up to one of his best discs, and that says a lot, considering how prolific he has been outside the trio format in his relatively short career.
It’s hard not to like Mehldau. The guy writes his own liner notes, quoting philosophers, vilifying music critics who compare him to Bill Evans and measure his music by his lifestyle and biography instead of judging the construction of his music. He has contributed to Willie Nelson’s Teatro and singer-songwriter Joe Henry’s Scar (a great disc featuring a not very pleasing album cover photo prominently displaying a large you-know-what). Comparing jazz to classical music, Mehldau once wrote: “If all the written music in the world suddenly burned up in a flash, who could still do a gig the same night, with complete strangers, and no rehearsals?”
But I digress... back to the music. It’s complex and eminently lyricalno Sturm und Drang on this albumyet because of his seemingly effortless technique, it’s hard to understand, and appreciate, all the subtleties he packs into a well-known song. Take, for example, Thelonious Monk’s up-tempo “Skippy;” a syncopated, chord-heavy rendition that combined with Rossy’s solid drum beat to pay tribute to Monk’s style and break new ground. On Paul Simon’s lyrical ballad “Still Crazy After All These Years,” Mehldau slowly builds the beautiful melody into a haunting refrain and then gently backs down to where the song began. It’s music that the more you listen to the more you hear. Well done, indeed.
Track Listing: 1. Get Happy 2. Dreamsville 3. Anything Goes 4. Tres Palabras 5. Skippy 6. Nearness of You 7. Still Crazy After All These Years 8. Everything in Its Right Place 9. Smile / Brad Mehldau Trio 10. I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face
Personnel: Brad Mehldau: Piano; Larry Grenadier: Bass; Jorge Rossy: Drums.