COMPOSERS: Brad Mehldau
WORKS: The Art of the Trio, Vol. 3: Songs
PERFORMER: Brad Mehldau (p), Larry Grenadier (b), Jorge Rossy (d)
CATALOGUE NO: 9362-47051-2
Extravagantly lauded by fellow jazz-musicians – guitarist Pat Metheny calls him ‘the most exciting jazz pianist to come along since Herbie Hancock’, bassist Charlie Haden ‘the most original new voice since Bill Evans’ – Brad Mehldau is slowly building a comparable word-of-mouth reputation among jazz aficionados.
His classical training has resulted in a flawless technique and a finely honed sensitivity to nuance and subtleties of coloration, but Mehldau’s talent is primarily improvisational. He performs as if in a trance, eschewing the dazzling runs of most of his post-boy contemporaries in favour of slow-building, meditative explorations packed with musical wit and controlled drama; he does swing, but dynamic and textural variety are clearly more important to him than straightforward rhythmic propulsion. His choice of standards – all luxuriantly slow tunes, caressed rather than played – gives some indication of his artistic aims, but it is his own compositions, intense, quirky, yet imbued with affecting, questing earnestness, that mark him out as a genuine original. Chris Parker