Brad Mehldau Trio: Live (2008)
Contributing Editor since 2005Velez is a freelance writer whose work appears in Time Out, Genre and AidsMeds.com.
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Returning to New York's Village Vanguard for another live recording, pianist Brad Mehldau's trio has Larry Grenadier (bass) returning and Jeff Ballard (drums) taking over for Jorge Rossy. Music seems to just pour out of Mehldau, as is buoyantly evident here. And often, as with Chico Buarque's "O Que Sera" or Chris Cornell's "Black Hole Sun," it flows at a dizzying pace.
Much of this set's made up of Mehldau's own compositions such as "B-Flat Waltz"; the rhythms of the distinctively complex piece give out more easy bossa than waltz. It's as if there is a syntonic piano duo playing alongside each other with Ballard's brushes supplying the gentlest of accompaniment. Somehow the music manages to be both dense and jaunty.
Among the cover tunes is Coltrane's classic "Countdown," which Mehldau's recorded at least twice previously. Peripatetically wandering solo through the opening section, Mehldau moves through the piece and accomplishes a neat balancing act with low, thunderous chords that seem to tiptoe piquantly through the melody to tasty effect, as satisfying as herbes de Provence liberally tossed over a good steak. The result is happy exploration, a distinctive feature of Mehldau's performances in general.
From early on Mehldau has proven to be a young master of standards. On "The Very Thought of You," with some sweet brushes for company, he begins with a gentle, late hours take on its basic melody. Then with some laid back bass he descends further for what becomes a darker and eloquent melodic expression of the unsaid lyrics. It's classic Mehldaumusic that wears well and deeply, while leaving a feeling there's more he hasn't chosen to reveal, just yet.
Track Listing: CD1: Introduction; Wonderwall; Ruby's Rub; O Que Sera; B-Flat Waltz; Black Hole Sun; The Very Thought of You. CD2: Buddha Realm; Fit Cat; Secret Beach; C.T.A., More Than You Know; Countdown.
Personnel: Brad Mehldau: piano; Larry Grenadier: bass; Jeff Ballard: drums.