200

Brad Mehldau Trio: Anything Goes

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
Two years after Largo , pianist Brad Mehldau returns to more familiar territory with Anything Goes , his first studio trio recording in four years. Familiar it may be—as he reconvenes his empathetic relationship with bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Jorge Rossy—but safe it is not.

On a programme surprisingly devoid of original material, Mehldau still manages to take a number of worn chestnuts and reinvigorate them by liberally reworking their structures. "Get Happy" is played in 7/4, and while the melody is discernable, that's the only thing that is recognizable. Mehldau and the trio use it as a starting point for individual and collective improvisations that set the tone for the rest of the album. Mehldau has never sounded better and for the first time there is the sense that, while his technical skills are clearly evident, he seems more relaxed, focusing with complete intent on the music and very little on his virtuoso abilities.

Group interplay has always been key for this group; Grenadier and Rossy have always been far more than mere accompanists, but as the group visits Radiohead territory once again for "Everything In Its Right Place," there is a sense of growth in their ability to communicate. While the tune is little more than a vamp, they manage to create subtle rhythmic shifts, implied pulses and dynamic variations that keep it completely engrossing for nearly seven minutes.

The general philosophy seems to be the more familiar the tune, the more generous the reinvention. "Anything Goes" is reworked into a 5/4 signature, with the harmonic re-imagining so great that the you have to work to find the structure of the original song. And it is Grenadier who introduces the theme of "Smile" over a 6/8 piano motif and percussion so light that Rossy almost seems to be breathing on his kit. On the other hand, "Dreamsville" and the light bossa of "Tres Palabras" are played fairly straight, as Grenadier and Rossy come the closest to being a traditional rhythm section. Paul Simon's "Still Crazy After All These Years" is also played fairly straight up, at least at first. Mehldau manages to capture the essence of the tune while, at the same time, eschewing the more overtly gospel changes of the verse, then using the bridge as a jumping-off point for more extended group improvisation.

Together for over eight years, Mehldau and his trio stand as one of the longest-lasting groups in jazz today, and they just keep getting better; they have long left the ranks of the imitative, and developed a personal vernacular. But with Anything Goes , they take things to a new level of interplay and invention; and while it is hard to top the trio's outstanding live recordings, this record definitely stands as their best studio effort.

Visit Brad Mehldau and Warner Brothers Jazz on the web.


Track Listing: Get Happy; Dreamsville; Anything Goes; Tres Palabras; Skippy; Nearness of You; Still Crazy After All These Years; Everything In Its Right Place; Smile; I've Grown Accustomed To Her Face

Personnel: Brad Mehldau (piano), Larry Grenadier (bass), Jorge Rossy (drums)

Title: Anything Goes | Year Released: 2004 | Record Label: Warner Bros.


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read A Night Walking Through Mirrors CD/LP/Track Review A Night Walking Through Mirrors
by Barry Witherden
Published: September 21, 2017
Read Jondo CD/LP/Track Review Jondo
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 21, 2017
Read Jazz Flute Traditions CD/LP/Track Review Jazz Flute Traditions
by Roger Farbey
Published: September 21, 2017
Read Nerve Dance CD/LP/Track Review Nerve Dance
by John Sharpe
Published: September 21, 2017
Read Déjà Vu CD/LP/Track Review Déjà Vu
by Troy Dostert
Published: September 20, 2017
Read Woody Guthrie - The Tribute Concerts CD/LP/Track Review Woody Guthrie - The Tribute Concerts
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: September 20, 2017
Read "Keep Me Singing" CD/LP/Track Review Keep Me Singing
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: October 8, 2016
Read "Proverbe" CD/LP/Track Review Proverbe
by Karl Ackermann
Published: June 15, 2017
Read "America's National Parks" CD/LP/Track Review America's National Parks
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: September 27, 2016
Read "Polygon" CD/LP/Track Review Polygon
by Pascal-Denis Lussier
Published: May 21, 2017
Read "Very Early" CD/LP/Track Review Very Early
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 23, 2016
Read "Swan Song" CD/LP/Track Review Swan Song
by Mark Sullivan
Published: December 17, 2016

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.