Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

319

Brad Mehldau: Live in Tokyo

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
In the ten years since pianist Brad Mehldau began recording as a leader, starting with '95's Introducing Brad Mehldau , he has emerged as a singular voice with not only a specific vision on his instrument, but also some fairly hefty philosophies which have been detailed in lengthy liner notes on many of his releases. But personal beliefs for a musician mean little to the listener if they cannot be translated into practice, and fortunately Mehldau has done just that. Two such practices, which Mehldau manages to combine, are responsible for his deeply personal vernacular: a purely spontaneous style, coupled with a strong sense of architecture. Mehldau is not about complete surrender, as is Keith Jarrett; he is about starting with informed and thoughtfully-conceived ideas and building on them, sometimes gradually, other times with more vigour.

While he has always practiced this duality, there are certain restrictions in the context of his long-standing trio based on other players being involved. Much more conducive to expressing these concepts is the solo performance, where the performer is completely unencumbered, free to develop ideas as languidly or as rapidly as he may. With the release of his Nonesuch Records debut, Live in Tokyo , Mehldau finally delivers a solo performance where he shows the true strength of his convictions and his potential. With pieces ranging from four to nearly twenty minutes, he demonstrates his ability to at times adhere closely to song form, while at others use the simplest idea as a basis for more extended and free-ranging improvisation.

The programme consists of a number of pieces that Mehldau has performed in the past with his trio. "Monk's Dream" becomes a true interpretation of Monk's quirky sense of the absurd, with sharp punctuations and incorporation of other elements, including the theme music from Peanuts. "Someone to Watch Over Me," with its companion piece "Introduction," develops more slowly, with a tenderness and elegance that Mehldau has always shown himself capable of with the trio, but is even more richly highlighted here. Similarly, the other Gershwin piece, "How Long Has This Been Going On?," receives a graceful reading that shows how far removed from the blues Mehldau's style is. But the centrepiece of the performance is his nearly twenty-minute long version of Radiohead's "Paranoid Android," which shows Mehldau's ability to find so much in so little. Like Radiohead's own version, his reading is as much about texture and ambience as it is about melody and form.

Bookending the programme are two Nick Drake songs. "Things Behind the Sun" receives a fairly literal reading, but is all the richer for it. "River Man," which Mehldau has recorded twice before, is a fitting coda, another case of a simple song providing the basis for broader exploration. Live in Tokyo is, quite simply, a landmark recording for Mehldau, further establishing his position as an artist of consequence.

Track Listing: Things Behind the Sun; Intro; Someone to Watch Over Me; From This Moment On; Monk's Dream; Paranoid Android; How Long Has This Been Going On?; River Man

Personnel: Brad Mehldau: piano.

Title: Live in Tokyo | Year Released: 2004 | Record Label: Nonesuch Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Shop for Music

Start your music shopping from All About Jazz and you'll support us in the process. Learn how.

Upcoming Shows

Date Detail Price
Apr3Wed
Brad Mehldau
Kuumbwa Jazz Center
Santa Cruz, CA
Apr4Thu
Brad Mehldau
SFJAZZ Center
San Francisco, CA
Apr5Fri
Brad Mehldau
SFJAZZ Center
San Francisco, CA
Apr6Sat
Brad Mehldau
SFJAZZ Center
San Francisco, CA
Apr7Sun
Brad Mehldau
SFJAZZ Center
San Francisco, CA
Apr10Wed
Brad Mehldau, The Brad Mehldau Trio
Jazz at the Bistro
St. Louis, MO
Apr11Thu
Brad Mehldau
Jazz at the Bistro
St. Louis, MO

Related Articles

Read These Wicked Things Album Reviews
These Wicked Things
By Mark Sullivan
March 26, 2019
Read The Silent Wish Album Reviews
The Silent Wish
By Don Phipps
March 26, 2019
Read Day After Day Album Reviews
Day After Day
By Mark Corroto
March 26, 2019
Read Gnomes and Badgers Album Reviews
Gnomes and Badgers
By Doug Collette
March 26, 2019
Read Chris Trinidad's Chant Triptych II Album Reviews
Chris Trinidad's Chant Triptych II
By Chris M. Slawecki
March 26, 2019
Read Our Story Album Reviews
Our Story
By Troy Dostert
March 25, 2019
Read Influences Album Reviews
Influences
By Don Phipps
March 25, 2019