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INTERVIEWS

Brad Mehldau: Dragons & Dreams

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For many, pianist Brad Mehldau's recording Day is Done (Nonesuch Records, 2005) with drummer Jeff Ballard and bassist Larry Grenadier came as close to trio perfection as is reasonable to expect in your wildest dreams. Perhaps perfection is a chimera, yet even if attainable it's at best fleeting by nature. But for Mehldau that doesn't stop the hunt for the stuff of his own wildest dreams. That elusive 'in-the-zone' quality when the music seems to play the musician rather then the other way round comes more freely in dreams than on the stage, and dreams--or rather the magic ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Brad Mehldau / Mark Guiliana: Mehliana - Taming the Dragon

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Whilst synthesizer-driven ambient groove music seems like a left-field move, nothing pianist/composer Brad Mehldau does should surprise anymore. The piano trio releases of Mehldau's first recording decade established his reputation as the most influential jazz pianist since Keith Jarrett. The brilliant, emotionally intense Elegiac Cycle (Warner Bros. Records, 1999) marked a significant departure from his previous works, opening the way to increasingly frequent experimental forays--from duo collaborations with soprano Renée Fleming, Love Sublime (Nonesuch, 2006), and mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie von Otter, Love Songs (Naïve Records, 2010), to the ambitious orchestral jazz-suite Highway Rider (Nonesuch Records, 2010). In this context, Taming ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Brad Mehldau / Mark Guiliana: Mehliana - Taming the Dragon

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First impressions shouldn't necessarily be the lasting ones. Despite, according to the press sheet, having played together for several years, über-pianist Brad Mehldau and drummer Mark Guiliana only began touring as Mehliana in 2013, and one of the heavily electronic duo's early performances at the 40th Vossa Jazz Festival in Voss, Norway was, sadly, eminently forgettable. But a year has passed and, in the interim, the duo has clocked a lot of road time, and with the released of Taming the Dragon, it's a pleasure to report that plenty has changed since that Vossa Jazz date...and all for the better. ...

BEST OF / YEAR END

Ian Patterson's Best Live Shows of 2013

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After seven amazing years covering jazz/creative music throughout much of South East Asia I have relocated to Ireland. It's been a real pleasure to reconnect with the music scene in my home country after a long absence. The country boasts a vibrant music scene, particularly in Dublin, where a good number of innovative musicians are producing some excellent sounds. In addition, a number of progressive music agencies are doing tremendous work in attracting outstanding international acts to Ireland. The following list is a baker's dozen of the best concerts I caught in 2013. April 12: Matthew Bourne, ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Brad Mehldau at The National Concert Hall, Dublin

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Brad Mehldau National Concert Hall Dublin, Ireland December 1, 2013 The National Concert Hall of Dublin is a long way from the bars and clubs of Greenwich Village, New York, where pianist Brad Mehldau cut his teeth in the early 1990s. Originally built for the Dublin International Exhibition of 1865 this impressive edifice is the home of classical music in Ireland. The venue says much, not only about Mehldau's status, but about jazz's credentials as an art form--at the very top end of the scale at least. The concert had all the trappings ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Ahmad Jamal: San Francisco, CA, June 18, 2013

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Ahmad JamalSymphony HallSan Francisco, CAJune 18, 2013SFJAZZ has accomplished a lot of things as it approaches its first half-year in its new building. Amongst them is revealing dedicated audiences for specific areas of the jazz universe, including piano-led bands. On the face of things, little may appear to connect two masters of this format, Ahmad Jamal, who performed on June 13 at Symphony Hall, and Brad Mehldau, who performed from April 26 to 28 at the new SFJAZZ Center. But both musicians and both groups are more similar than they might seem. In addition, in ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Brad Mehldau Trio: Where Do You Start

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Hot on the heels of Brad Mehldau's Ode (Nonesuch, 2012)--the pianist's first all-original set with his current trio--comes Where Do You Start, culled from the same recording sessions but, with the exception of one Mehldau tune, all cover material. This isn't the first time Mehldau has split a particularly fruitful session down the same compositional line: Anything Goes (Warner Bros.) and House on Hill (Nonesuch) were both same from the same sessions, recorded with original drummer Jorge Rossy before he left the trio to return to Spain. But the two were released two years apart--the cover-song Anything in 2004 and ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Brad Mehldau Trio: Denver, CO, May 11, 2012

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Brad Mehldau TrioNewman CenterDenver, COMay 11, 2012Pianist Brad Mehldau takes jazz seriously. He named his second album as a leader The Art of the Trio (Warner Bros., 1997). But wait, he didn't use that name for just one album; he released five albums, as a series, under that name. Those albums came out from 1997 to 2001 and have recently been reissued in a box set, Art of the Trio Recordings: 1996-2001 (Nonesuch, 2011).Since that time, he's worked in a variety of other contexts and with other instrumentation including, notably, guitarist Pat Metheny ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Brad Mehldau Trio: Ode

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Seven years separate Ode from this trio's last studio recording, the outstanding Day is Done (Nonesuch, 2005), which has come to mark a before-and-after in Brad Mehldau's trajectory. Previously, the pianist had recorded in a traditional trio setting with few exceptions. Since Day is Done, however, Mehldau's projects have covered much more diverse terrain: setting poetry to music with classical soprano Renée Fleming; rubbing shoulders with guitarist Pat Metheny; and blending classical and popular song with mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie von Otter. Highway Rider (Nonesuch, 2010) was an orchestral suite of cinematic scope, while Modern Voices (Nonesuch, 2011) paired Mehldau with ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Brad Mehldau Trio: Ode

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Brad Mehldau TrioOdeNonesuch Records2012The very first notes of the Brad Mehldau Trio's Ode sound rich, lyrical and full of energy. This may come as a surprise to those unfamiliar with the pianist's work, but loyal followers of Mehldau know he brings an unusual intensity to his work, particularly his solo projects and the collaborations with his trio (currently bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Jeff Ballard). This, the first studio trio recording since Day Is Done (Nonesuch, 2005), is no exception.Thus, a homage to the late saxophonist Michael Brecker, “M.B.," might ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Brad Mehldau Trio: Ode

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The Art of the Trio: Recordings 1996-2001 (Nonesuch, 2011) provided an opportunity to reassess Brad Mehldau's rapid trajectory, though the trio that established him as one of the past two decades' most important pianists was long gone. If Jorge Rossy's replacement in 2005 seemed to open the trio up more, it's perhaps because drummer Jeff Ballard is a more assertive conversationalist, as demonstrated from the get-go on “Knives Out," the first track on Mehldau's debut with this updated incarnation, Day is Done (Nonesuch, 2005). It's a feeling immediately reaffirmed on “M.B.," the opener to Ode, Mehldau's first trio recording since ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Brad Mehldau: The Art of the Trio - Recordings 1996-2001

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Brad Mehldau TrioThe Art of the Trio: Recordings 1996-2001Nonesuch Records2011 It's hard to believe that it's only been fifteen years since Brad Mehldau emerged on the scene, so prevalent and influential has the pianist become since then. At the same time as he was gaining some significant attention for his work with saxophonist Joshua Redman on Moodswing (Warner Bros., 1994), the then 24 year-old pianist had been recruited by Redman's label, releasing Introducing Brad Mehldau in 1995--an apt if not entirely accurate title; while it represented his first recording with true ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Brad Mehldau: Live in Marciac

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In his 2000 book Fargo Rock City (Scribner), Chuck Klosterman explains a phenomenon in heavy metal that involves the critical threshold at which the speed of notes within a solo actually changes the inherent meaning of the sound. To illustrate his point, he describes a passage by ex-Kiss guitarist Vinnie Vincent that, upon crossing said threshold, “becomes the equivalent of a police whistle." This is an astute observation which extends to jazz as well: There's a point during “Mars," from John Coltrane's Interstellar Space (Impulse!, 1967), where the notes descend so rapidly that it feels less like listening to a ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Brad Mehldau: Live in Marciac

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Brad Mehldau Live in Marciac Nonesuch Records2011 If there's any (relatively) young pianist ready to take the torch from Keith Jarrett when it comes to solo performance, it's Brad Mehldau. In the space of (again, relatively) a few short years, from his mid-1990s emergence with saxophonist Joshua Redman through his early--and, some might suggest, rather precocious, were they not already so well-formed and mature--Art of the Trio series, the 40 year-old pianist has emerged as a player of comparable virtuosity and ability to mine the furthest ethereal reaches of improvisation, regardless of context. Still, ...



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