Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for 1,000 backers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

191

Brad Mehldau's Artful Trio, Live

R.J. DeLuke By

Sign in to view read count
Mehldau doesn't burn fluidly through a song like Jones or Tommy Flanagan. He doesn't swing in that way. His coloring is different
Brad Mehldau continues to refine the art of the jazz trio and in doing so is establishing a cohesiveness and a personal language and sound with his working group that has become as identifiable as other great trios like Keith Jarrett's, or like the late, great Bill Evans sustained during his career.
Whether one believes his trio stands among the ranks of masters like Jarrett, Evans or Hank Jones is a matter of personal taste. But music isn't about ranking. The music made by Mehldau and his mates — bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Jorge Rossy — is wonderful jazz: cerebral, creative, touching and exploratory. For 11 albums, since 1995's Introducing Brad Mehldau , through five volumes subtitled "Art of the Trio" up to Anything Goes , released early this year, these three musicians have been together and it shows. (Only the very recent Live in Tokyo , and '99's Elegiac Cycle , solo Mehldau offerings both, don't include Grenadier and Rossy). Keeping a band together isn't easy, but it's the best way to establish a personal style, with musical versions of family stories and inside jokes. This group has done that.
At Albany, NY's extraordinary venue The Egg on Oct. 28, the art of this trio was displayed with style and elegance one has come to expect. The pianist continues to explore the standard repertoire, as well as develop his own music. Both are done superbly. Mehldau still shows the influences of Jarrett and Evans, yet his exploring, meandering right hand, and distinctive left that plays both counterpoint and support, is recognizable as his own more and more over time. It's exquisite.
The Burt Bacharach theme to the movie "Alfie" started things off. Mehldau's soft single notes purposely lagged behind the beat, as he so often does. He was almost agonizingly behind the rhythm held steadfast by Rossy and Grenadier, but it hung in just enough to be a good effect. The group moved to a stately Spanish-tinged theme that turned out to be "Grenada," by saxophonist Chris Cheek, showing a willingness to break from the standard mold.

Mehldau also presented three new original compositions, all of them yet untitled. One was a mid-tempo melodic piece, one a jazz waltz and the last a ballad, not particularly compelling, but perhaps could be when the group has worked it out more. Engaging was the next tune, which started with a Grenadier bas solo and then soared off into all manner of things. The pianist created sweet and subtle melodic riffs, and the group also soared off and burned it up at times. It was quite a while before it became recognizable as Paul Simon's "Fifty Ways to Leave You Lover," but it was a great journey, including an unaccompanied solo by Mehldau in which he toyed with melody and harmony that was one of the night's highlights.

A Soft version of "More Than You Know" showed the group's soft side, as did the standard, and Mehldau staple, "How Long Has This Been Going On." "I Didn't Know What Time It Was" found Mehldau in a strong improvisational groove, allowing the melody to be heard while still playfully tweaking its elements. His phrasing is Jarrett-like in the way he will wander through the changes with his single-note runs, but his accent is different, his voice is his own. Mehldau doesn't burn fluidly through a song like Jones or Tommy Flanagan. He doesn't swing in that way. His coloring is different, more idiosyncratic in approach. His left hand darts in and out more and adds a different type of flavor. He's searching, but not to the point of distraction. He takes you on the ride and it's always interesting along the way.

The trio continues to build a strong body of work and a strong voice. Both are needed and kudos to its leader for the accomplishment.

Visit Brad Mehldau on the web.


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Jazztopad Festival 2017 Live Reviews Jazztopad Festival 2017
by Henning Bolte
Published: December 13, 2017
Read Vivian Reed at Feinstein's/54 Below Live Reviews Vivian Reed at Feinstein's/54 Below
by Tyran Grillo
Published: December 12, 2017
Read Henry Threadgill at Tilton Gallery Live Reviews Henry Threadgill at Tilton Gallery
by Kurt Gottschalk
Published: December 10, 2017
Read The Brian McCarthy Quartet At FlynnSpace Live Reviews The Brian McCarthy Quartet At FlynnSpace
by Doug Collette
Published: December 10, 2017
Read Mindi Abair at The Empress Theatre Live Reviews Mindi Abair at The Empress Theatre
by Walter Atkins
Published: December 8, 2017
Read BAN BAM: Music Talking Live Reviews BAN BAM: Music Talking
by Ian Patterson
Published: December 7, 2017
Read "Buenos Aires Jazz Festival 2016" Live Reviews Buenos Aires Jazz Festival 2016
by Mark Holston
Published: January 9, 2017
Read "Slovenian Showcase Festival 2017" Live Reviews Slovenian Showcase Festival 2017
by Ian Patterson
Published: October 4, 2017
Read "Karuna at LaFontsee Gallery" Live Reviews Karuna at LaFontsee Gallery
by John Ephland
Published: May 2, 2017

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!