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Brad Mehldau
biography, album Places, CD reviews


Get the album Places from Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.fr, Amazon.de.




Brad Mehldau Solo: Elegiac Cycle, Warner, June 7, 1999. Get the CD from Amazon.de, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.fr, Amazon.com, Amazon Canada.
 

Brad Mehldau Trio: The Art Of Trio Vol. 4. Back At The Vanguard, (Live)
October 18, 1999. Warner. Album bestellen bei Amazon.de, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.fr, Amazon.com, Amazon Canada.

 


Added on July 6, 2006: Brad Mehldau Trio: House on Hill. Nonesuch/Warner, June 2006. Get the CD from Amazon.de, Amazon.com, Cede Schweiz.


Added on July 6, 2006: Brad Mehldau Trio: Day is Done. Nonesuch/Warner, September 30, 2005. Get the CD from Amazon.de, Amazon.com, Cede Schweiz.

Added on August 12, 2003: Concert at the KKL in Lucerne on May 13, 2001.
The Brad Mehldau Trio fully convinced in the second half of the concert with "traditional", timeless and elegant jazz, on a level as high as I can only remember from a concert by the Oscar Peterson Trio in Geneva's Victoria Hall. Conclusion: Brad Mehldau can be a moody musician, as was the case in Basel (check the article below). However, in the first part of the Lucerne concert, Mehldau showed some limitations in his solo performance based on classical music (where his originality lies), in comparison to great classical music pianists such as Martha Argerich and Mikhail Pletnev.


Biography of Brad Mehldau and CD Places

Article added in December 2000

 
Brad Mehldau, born in 1970, grew up in a middle class family in Jacksonville, Florida. At the age of six, he began with classical music lessons, but listened to pop from Supertramp to Frank Zappa. At thirteen, he discovered jazz, Miles Davis, Bud Powell and others. As a teenager, he learned that he was an adoptive child. Mehldau read German poets from Johann Wolfgang Goethe to Thomas Mann. He studied jazz piano in New York with Kenny Werner, Junior Mance and Fred Hersch. He also took rhythmic classes with Jimmy Cobb and played in his band, Cobb's Mob. In the evening, Brad Mehldau met his models like Kenny Barron in the clubs. He became addicted to heroin and, at the same time, had first local successes. On a tour in 1994, he was introduced to an international audience as a sideman in tenor saxophonist Joshua Redman's quartet. In 1995 followed his first album as a leader, Introducing Brad Mehldau, already with his current musicians, Jorge Rossy and Larry Grenadier.
 
After exploring The Art of the Trio and his piano solo capacities in Elegiac Cycle, Mehldau offers with his new album, Places, an eclectic choice from jazz to classical music, from piano solo to acoustic trio. But Places is clearly jazzier than his previous CDs. Therefore, he partly loses his magic touch which was closely related to his ability to compose and improvise classical music. The new CD is arranged around the concept of places around the world which Mehldau evokes in his compositions. Los Angeles, where the album was recorded, sets the guiding theme which shines through not only in Los Angeles II and in Los Angeles (Reprise), but also in other tunes. All the 13 tracks of Places are original compositions by the 30-year old Mehldau. Seven are solos and six are trio recordings. Among his solo performances are 29 Palms, a remarkable solo effort with a tangible dose of Gershwin, Los Angeles II, which convinces through its introspective qualities, Airport Sadness, a melancholic piece of classical music, and Paris, a mix of classical music and jazz. Among the trio compositions are A Walk in the Park, an elegant jazzy tune with a virtuoso piano part, and Schloss Elmau, a performance of classical jazz elegance. After his seductive duo album on Verve with Fleurine, Mehldau proves once more to be an outstanding pianist. More importantly, he has established himself as one of the leading composers of the moment.
 
As usual, Mehldau offers a look into his philosophical world in his sleeve-notes. Some may call them presumptuous or a marketing ploy, but as long as they contain interesting thoughts, I prefer them to the stupid lyrics we are used to read from most pop, jazz and classical composers. Regarding the albums theme, "places", Mehldau writes some down to earth comments: "It seems like the grandeur of a place only reveals itself after I've left it. Memory can make a location more 'real' than it ever was in reality. For instance, there's the scent of an object that's been brought home from somewhere far away. (It could even come from a silly item like the bug spray or deodorant that was bought and used during a vacation.)"
 
Concert review: Jazz by OffBeat, Basel, Switzerland, November 19, 2000
 
T
he Brad Mehldau Trio featuring the pianist, his traditional drummer Jorge Rossy and his bassist Larry Grenadier played on November 19 at the AVO Session in Basel. The concert was largely dedicated to their new album Places. It was clearly a jazz evening. Mehldau's magical piano improvisations, closely related to romantic classical music, were missing.
 
The trio started off with a jazz ballad, followed by the at times introspective, at times lively Los Angeles from their latest release. Mehldau played with virtuosity, but without reaching his usual emotional level. The fourth tune was Alone Together, a composition by Dietz and Schwarz. Mehldau started off solo and introduced elements of classical music. It was one of the best moments of the evening. Larry Grenadier on bass contributed his fair share to the success and, towards the end, the trio was grooving (but compared to the performance of the same tune by the Lynne Arriale Trio two days earlier, they looked very pale). The following ballad, The Folks Who Live on the Hill, was sweet, warm and discreet. Mehldau was outstanding, melodious and touching, especially in his solo part.
 
After the break, the trio played traditional jazz tunes of classical elegance. In The More I See You, the piano was swinging and, when necessary, lyric. After a composition by Mehldau as a tribute to Thelonious Monk came Gershwin's Long Ago, Far Away. The poetic ballad's highlight was, once more, the sensitive and virtuous Mehldau. The only thing lacking in these classical tunes was the really "hot" play. Rossy on drums and Grenadier on bass remained pale, in their trio as well as in their rare solo parts. As an encore, The Brad Mehldau Trio offered River Man. Dark and mystic sounds alternated with lively ones. The intensity and force of the music was finally bringing a magical moment to the concert.
 
Compared to the outstanding performance at the Tonhalle Zurich in February 2000, Mehldau was not able to fully convince. It became clear that without the pianist in his best form, the trio is barely average. It may also be that in the traditional jazz field, Mehldau cannot compete with Oscar Peterson, Diana Krall or Lynne Arriale. His strong and innovative side is the mix of jazz with classical music. This element was crucially missing at the AVO Session. Anyhow, an artist performing live has, once in a while, the right to deliver a weaker, partly disappointing performance. On May 13, 2001, Brad Mehldau will be playing solo and trio in Lucerne, another chance to listen to this outstanding young pianist.
 

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