8

Joshua Redman & Brad Mehldau: Nearness

Doug Collette By

Sign in to view read count
Brilliant musicians don't always make brilliant music when they collaborate and while that's sometimes been the case with pianist Brad Mehldau and saxophonist Joshua Redman, on the duo concert recordings that make up the appropriately-titled Nearness, they live up to their elevated pedigree. And that's individual as well as shared cachet: Mehldau spent a fair amount of time, some eighteen months to be exact, as a member of Redman's groups in the early Nineties and they formally collaborated on Highway Rider (Nonesuch, 2009)

In fact, the two musicians' time together in the same performing unit acts as a catalyst to their well-grounded musical education and their prodigious technical expertise on Charlie Parker's "Ornithology" and the Mehldau original "Old West (one of the three he and his partner contribute to the six here)." The intricacy of their instrumental involvement(s), in particular each man's ability to anticipate the other as they improvise, remains as fluid and authoritative as when they are actually rendering the changes of "The Nearness of Yo u:" in its near seventeen minutes,this tune of Hoagy Carmichael's receives the deepest exploration of (both implied and stated) rhythmic and melodic nuance on the album.

Within these poised yet freewheeling interactions, there is never a sense other musicians are missing as might otherwise appear in a larger ensemble i,e., a rhythm section or perhaps a guitarist. Both Redman and Mehldau have that experience to draw upon, the former in his groove-oriented projects Elastic (Warner Bros., 2002) and Momentum (Nonesuch, 2005) and the latter in his studio and live collaborations with guitarist/composer extraordinaire Pat Metheny, so they're fully acquainted with how to play in larger lineups, but this also preps them for smaller more intimate setting such as the one captured on Nearness.

Such knowledge of the dichotomy also guides the pianist and saxophonist in knowing what to leave out when they play, whether it's embroidering upon the structure of "Always August" or in the call and response they judiciously partake in during these recordings. Weaving around each other and spiraling up, down and around within Thelonious Monk's "In Walked Bud" only makes the denouement of in their resolution together all that much sweeter when it arrives.

All of which speaks to the expertise of the musicianship on display during Nearness, but overlooks a comparable expertise on the production front exhibited by Joshua Redman and Brad Mehldau. Working with performances from July and November of 2011, the discerning ears of recordist and mixer Paul Boothe as well as mastering engineer Greg Calbi insure the maintenance of a sonic quality as sharp as the chemistry of the two artists whose names appear in top billing on the CD package, the black and white design of which belies the multi-colored dynamics of the music enclosed.

Track Listing: Ornithology; Always August; In Walked Bud; Melancholy Mode; The Nearness of You; Old West.

Personnel: Joshua Redman: tenor and soprano saxophones; Brad Mehldau: piano.

Title: Nearness | Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: Nonesuch Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Estonian Suite: Live In Tallinn CD/LP/Track Review Estonian Suite: Live In Tallinn
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: November 18, 2017
Read The Princess CD/LP/Track Review The Princess
by Mark Corroto
Published: November 18, 2017
Read Queen City Blues CD/LP/Track Review Queen City Blues
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: November 18, 2017
Read Latin Lover CD/LP/Track Review Latin Lover
by Rob Rosenblum
Published: November 18, 2017
Read Reclamation CD/LP/Track Review Reclamation
by Glenn Astarita
Published: November 18, 2017
Read Provenance CD/LP/Track Review Provenance
by Karl Ackermann
Published: November 17, 2017
Read "Resting in a Fold of the Fog" CD/LP/Track Review Resting in a Fold of the Fog
by John Eyles
Published: March 16, 2017
Read "Blue Maqams" CD/LP/Track Review Blue Maqams
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: November 13, 2017
Read "mono no aware" CD/LP/Track Review mono no aware
by Mark Sullivan
Published: November 14, 2017
Read "First Set" CD/LP/Track Review First Set
by Roger Farbey
Published: November 29, 2016
Read "Bekkenjordet" CD/LP/Track Review Bekkenjordet
by Troy Dostert
Published: April 15, 2017
Read "Rejoice! I'm Dead!" CD/LP/Track Review Rejoice! I'm Dead!
by Glenn Astarita
Published: February 11, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

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

Please support out sponsor