Pat Metheny Brad Mehldau Metheny Mehldau Nonesuch 2006
Although Brad Mehldau's mastery of the standard jazz repertoire is a significant source of his popularity, it is but one facet of his talent. Mehldau's importance as a composer has been overlooked, perhaps because his distinctiveness as an improvisor is more easily recognized on familiar material. Culled from the session that produced Anything Goes, on which the pianist interpreted both classic and modern popular material, House On Hill offers a compelling insight into Mehldau's compositional capabilities. Taken together with his collaboration with Pat Metheny, a superior representation of the breadth of his talent comes to light.
Mehldau addresses the problematic nature of combining composition and improvisation in the notes to House On Hill and the disc's nine compositions achieve this goal with laudable aplomb. The trio, featuring bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Jorge Rossy, is well integrated and possesses a flowing quality that reflects the pianist's classical background, as well as his romanticism. And while his playing exhibits resemblances to similarly-minded pianists such as Bill Evans, Ahmad Jamal and Keith Jarrett, they in no way overshadow his own personal voice. Mehldau's virtuosic technique serves him well in navigating his intelligently constructed pieces, without a hint of ostentation. His solos follow logically from the thematic material and the music's seeming simplicity and implicit spaciousness makes it a pleasure to hear.
Metheny Mehldau is a momentous meeting on which the pianist shares the spotlight with the great guitarist on eight delicately delineated duets, plus a pair of quartet outings that add bassist Grenadier and drummer Jeff Ballard. From the opening strains of Mehldau's "Unrequited , the simpatico between the two leaders is unmistakably apparent and the demarcation between soloist and accompanist rendered moot. Metheny's rhythmic "Ahmid-6 and dreamy "Summer Day could have been written for Mehldau and he plays them as if they were his own, blending beautifully with the guitarist. The quartet rendering of Metheny's "Ring Of Life , with its rocking rhythm, offers contrasting views of the pianist - one spare, the other powerful. The remainder of the album, five duo pieces - two by Mehldau and three by Metheny - plus a quartet version of the latter's "Say The Brother's Name - return to the expansive mood of the earlier tracks and both players further display their crafty melodicism and impressive harmonic and rhythmic acuity to complete this enjoyable endeavor.
Tracks and Personnel
House On Hill
Tracks: August Ending; House on Hill; Bealtine; Boomer; Backyard Mehldau; Fear and Trembling; Embers; Happy Tune; Waiting for Eden .
Personnel: Brad Mehldau: piano; Larry Grenadier: bass; Jorge Rossy: drums.
Tracks: Unrequited; Ahmid-6; Summer Day; Ring of Life; Legend; Find Me in Your Dreams; Say the Brother's Name; Bachelors III; Annie's Bittersweet Cake; Make Peace.
Personnel: Pat Metheny: guitar; Brad Mehldau: piano.