COMPOSERS: Brad Mehldau
PERFORMER: Mehldau (p)
CATALOGUE NO: 9362-47357-2
Although New York-based pianist Brad Mehldau refers to this, his first solo album, as ‘a hodge-podge of Chopin and Billy Joel, Brahms and Supertramp’ (accurately reflecting his listening in his formative early teens), it is, as its title suggests, a deeply felt cycle of elegies inspired not just by specific human deaths but by transience in general.
Like one of his most obvious influences, Bill Evans, Mehldau is as thoroughly steeped in the classical piano tradition – particularly the work of Brahms, Schumann and Chopin – as he is in the work of post-bop jazz masters such as Wynton Kelly, Keith Jarrett and Herbie Hancock, so the nine originals that constitute this wonderfully dense and consistently affecting album combine the scrupulous attention to nuance and dynamic subtlety of the former tradition with the vigorously imaginative improvisational approach associated with the latter.
The result is one of the most intriguing recordings of recent years, at once broodingly intimate and sparklingly inventive, and one that will richly reward open-eared listeners from both jazz and classical camps. Chris Parker