Since the early '90s, Brad Mehldau's considerable output has most consistently been in the trio format. Especially notable were the five volumes of The Art of the Trio. Making his debut here with the new unit is drummer Jeff Ballard, who replaces Jorge Rossy; Larry Grenadier holds down his accustomed spot on bass. This is "friendly music that ought never to be mistaken for shallow.
The eclectic mix of tunes ranges from interpretations of the title number by English singer/songwriter Nick Drake to Lennon and McCartney's "She's Leaving Home and a near-hypnotic opener, "Knives Out, from the songbook of the UK band Radiohead. On this piece, drums and bass create a quietly steamy path through which Mehldau's ripples of chords glow like Jensen silver on dark velvet. The mood is quiet, the beat rigorous and enticing.
"Martha My Dear, which features Mehldau's only solo on the set, is a Baroque meets Brahms-like consideration of another Lennon and McCartney tune that's alternately insistent and crisply gentle. Mehldau's way with Bacharach's "Alfie is a straight-ahead, emotionally direct reading that sings with sweet poignancy. "Turtle Town, one of two originals on this set, presents the trio at its best. The foundation of Grenadier's bass and the timbres of Ballard's drums provide a rich, dense harmony as Mehldau reworks the melody. Finally, an old Nat Cole favorite, "No Moon at All, brings this swell set to a swinging finish.
Knives Out; Alfie; Martha My Dear; Day is Done; Artis; Turtle Town; She'e Leaving Home; Granada; 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover; No Moon at All
Brad Mehdlau: piano; Larry Grenadier: bass (1, 2, 4-10); Jeff Ballard: drums (3).
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