Brad Mehldau: Marion McPartland's Piano Jazz: Brad Mehldau (2007)
since 2004Scottish sometime blues pianist, classical singer, author, literary and music critic
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Part of the Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz Series, this piano and conversation set, recorded in 1996, is strong on ballads, with a fresh sound from a younger Brad Mehldau.
On their first date in 1958, Mehldau's father took a young lady to the Hickory House jazz club in New York and heard McPartland. They later married, and produced son Brad who appears here with the great lady jazz pianist McPartland (tickets for her 89th birthday event were on sale when I received this CD). Details like this have emerged in many conversations between McPartland and her guests. She has heard of several other couples (former Hickory House patrons) who later married, and has felt she was being called a matchmaker. However most of the conversation for this set is about music.
Eleven years ago, Brad Mehldau may not have been the musician he is now, but that's irrelevant here. What he did then is still worth hearing, quite apart from any interest he has now developed. If he hadn't gone on to do what he's doing now, he'd still be worth hearing, especially on pieces like "From this Moment On."
McPartland's commentary notes Mehldau's musical development of different contrapuntal lines, harmonically rich, and swinging; as heard on the substantial piece "Ron's Place" which he had recorded in a trio set. In one of the conversations he expresses concern about how far he might have achieved in the art of solo jazz piano. Clearly he took the problem seriously enough to have resolved it, giving acknowledgement and praise to one his teachers, pianist Fred Hersch. Along with interesting conversation, the recording does however contain thirty-five minutes of impeccably swinging piano playing in solos and duets with McPartland.
Track Listing: Conversation; From This Moment On (solo); Conversation; Ron's Place (solo); Conversation; Stella By Starlight (duo); Conversation; I Get Along Without You Very Well (Except Sometimes) (duo); Conversation; When I Fall In Love (solo); Conversation; Our Love Is Here To Stay (duo); Conversation; I See Your Face Before Me (solo); Conversation; No Particular Blues (duo); Conversation (closing remarks).
Personnel: Brad Mehldau, Marion McPartland: piano, speech.