Live in Tokyo

COMPOSERS: Various
LABELS: Nonesuch
PERFORMER: Brad Mehldau
CATALOGUE NO: 7559-79853-2

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One may expect few surprises from a record of piano solos, although the tough, exposed agenda which the soloist has to contend with can lead in many unexpected directions. Brad Mehldau’s first solo record – a studio affair – had a crowded, almost airless feel about it.

Live in Tokyo is a complete contrast. Some of the loveliest playing by the youthful keyboard master is here, along with some of his more fantastical excursions. He improvises a mesmerisingly lyrical intro to ‘Someone to Watch Over Me’, which presages a cool-headed treatment that is, in its way, daringly slow.

His engagement with Thelonious Monk’s music is becoming one of the great dialogues in modern jazz, and he presents a fascinating version of ‘Monk’s Dream’. And he continues to create wonderment from the most improbable sources.

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Radiohead’s ‘Paranoid Android’ is here slowly expanded into an extraordinary 20-minute fantasia, dark and light and rich and sparse by turns, the pianist absolutely focused every step of the way. An unmissable record.