Friday, April 13, 2012

Brad Mehldau - Ode (Nonesuch, 2012)

I often run hot and cold with pianist Brad Mehldau's music, but I was really impressed with this album that combines musical virtuosity with a deep narrative sense that imbues the songs with color and passion. Mehldau has open communication with Jeff Ballard on drums, and Larry Grenadier on bass and this appreciation and trust enhances the quality of the music. The performances move through a number of moods, with the group communicating well with its listeners on the faster paced tunes, where "M.B." and "Ode" show the interdependence of the group as an organic whole. The slower pieces work equally well, calling upon a deep reservoir of lyricism enhancing the personal quality on the intimate "Dream Sketch," and the centerpiece of the album, "Eulogy For George Harrison." Beginning as a haunting elegy, the music builds slowly over the course of nine minutes to a dynamic and elastic performance. Developing from a vulnerable beginning and building to a strong and complex improvisation, this performance is particularly powerful. The trio retains an open and spontaneous relationship throughout, allowing them to tell a set of musical short stories effectively, and constructively, looking to envelop a large spectrum of mainstream jazz. Ode -

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