COMPOSERS: Brah Mehldau
WORKS: Live in Marciac
PERFORMER: Brad Mehldau (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 7559 798 139
Super fast twitch muscles in all fingers and thumbs, fed by messages from two brains – one contemporary, one classical – place jazz superhero Brad Mehldau in a different league to other pianists. He can create and execute so many more improvisatory moves than other mere mortals at the keyboard.
This electrifying live CD and DVD package, taken from a solo show at Marciac jazz festival in 2006, lays bare the man’s awesome firepower. Although the programme’s raw material ranges around the cerebral American’s favourite things, from Rodgers/Hammerstein to Radiohead via Cole Porter and Kurt Cobain, Mehldau’s obsessive interpretation of these popular classics makes them his own.
If his last release, the panoramic strings-laden Highway Rider, revealed Mehldau’s skill as a big-ensemble composer, Live in Marciac confirms him as one of the great jazz solo improvisers. His music here is like a standing wave of improvisation: huge energy sustaining an unending surge of cresting, contrapuntal lines within lines.
It is just as well there is an accompanying DVD because seeing is believing. The close-ups show Mehldau to be completely absorbed, transported and contorted by his performance. It is jazz at its most pure: the master musician playing utterly for himself, in the moment. Garry Booth