LABELS: Criss Cross Criss
PERFORMER: MTB: Brad Mehldau (p), Mark Turner (ts), Peter Bernstein (g), Larry Grenadier (b), Leon Parker (d)
CATALOGUE NO: 1177 CD
The Dutch label Criss Cross has done jazz great service over the years by searching out and recording up-and-coming players, giving them invaluable studio experience and worldwide exposure in the process. This album was recorded in 1994, and in Brad Mehldau’s words, ‘it captured all of us when we were right at the beginning of developing our own voices’.
All five participants have since gone on to achieve considerable fame in the jazz world, Mehldau in particular attracting rave reviews wherever he appears for the rare combination of exquisite delicacy and improvisational brio already discernible on this consistently stylish, polished album.
Mark Turner has subsequently produced a number of elegant, assured albums, and much of his mature, unruffled, controlled tenor sound is already in place here. Peter Bernstein’s painstaking, considered guitar solos have since graced performances by everyone from horn players Joshua Redman and Eric Alexander to singer/pianist Diana Krall, and in both his soloing and compositional modes he, too, is in fine form on Consenting Adults.
The rhythm section – Larry Grenadier’s unfussy, supple propulsiveness blending perfectly with Leon Parker’s ‘less is more’ approach – plays flawlessly throughout, and whether the band is bustling through Wayne Shorter’s ‘Limbo’ and Jackie McLean’s ‘Little Melonae’, turning the burners up to maximum for a scorching romp through ‘From This Moment On’ or down to minimum for the hushed ballads centred on Mehldau, this is a fascinating glimpse of five extravagantly talented players. Chris Parker