Saturday, 12 April 2008

Brad Mehldau – Live

I've just received the Brad Mehldau Trio 'Live' and I'm really enjoying getting to know it. My previous experience of this artist is through his collaboration with the guitarist Pat Metheny, on 'Metheny Mehldau', and playing on the late Michael Brecker's final CD 'Pilgrimage'. More recently I downloaded his version of 'Nearness of You' – I got a thing about this standard and wanted to hear how other musicians played it and Mehldau is very cool, as is Ella, very small-hours-ish.

'Live' is a double CD of two and a half hours duration and twelve tracks, and includes standards such as 'The Very Thought of You' and 'More Than You Know', together with more contemporary numbers such as his take on Noel Gallagher's 'Wonderwall'.

Mehldau is something else. One review of this album described it as 'state-of-the-art contemporary jazz piano' and I find him really impressive. As I was listening to 'The Very Thought of You' which develops into an extended piano solo, it struck me that his playing is yet another example of music that transcends the labels of 'jazz' and 'classical' or 'serious'. He combines an inventive mind which creates fresh sounds with an awareness of the architecture, a profound musicianship drawing on a broad range of styles, a breathtaking sensitivity, all gathered together with an awesome technique. This is undoubtedly jazz, but it's more than just jazz. It was recorded at New York's Village Vanguard, but it might just have been the Wigmore Hall.

When I was at music college there was a real snobbishness about jazz. When tuning up, if an 'a' was played that was a bit dodgy, the remark was, 'close enough for jazz'. Sometimes it came from those who were able to play in that genre but could also play 'straight'. Not many of us were able to make the transition from one to the other. Exceptions were Guy Barker, Martin Koch, Andy Findon, and Dave Heath. And it's been really good to get to know Sarah Watts again - visit Razzamajazz - who is able to move effortlessly between a number of genres.

I'm glad that things have changed. As for me, I'm still working on it!


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