Brad Mehldau interrupted his ongoing Art of the Trio series with last year's anomalous Places. Now the series resumes with Progression, a live double-disc package containing 136 minutes of music. Like Mehldau's previous live records, this one features a great deal of stretching out. Loosely speaking, disc one focuses on standards, including up-tempo versions of "The More I See You" and "Alone Together." The latter, played in seven (with a stunning solo piano intro), segues directly into a brief "It Might As Well Be Spring," also played in seven, as it was on Mehldau's very first record. Disc two is evenly split between standards and originals. Of particular interest is "Secret Love," done as a ballad, and "Resignation," which Mehldau first performed solo on 1999's Elegaic Cycle.
All of Mehldau's telltale signatures are here: altered root motion and meter on standard tunes; extended, ethereal vamps; flowing, virtuosic intros and cadenzas; blindingly fast tempos juxtaposed with ballads so slow that they seem to hover. With the reliable help of Larry Grenadier and Jorge Rossy, Mehldau brings his art to ever more musical places. Without a doubt, his trio remains one of the most identifiable groups in jazz, and Progression is one of its most substantial documents to date.
CD1: The More I See You; Dream's Monk; The Folks Who Live on the Hill; Alone Together; It Might As Well Be Spring; Cry Me a River; River Man. CD2: Quit; Secret Love; Sublation; Resignation; Long Ago and Far Away; How Long Has This Been Going On?
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