Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Brad Mehldau Trio - Where Do You Start (Nonesuch, 2012)

Pianist Brad Mehldau is riding a wave of creativity. Earlier this year he released a successful album of original compositions called Ode, and this album follows it up with interpretations of pop and jazz standards. Performing with his longstanding trio mates Larry Grenadier on bass and Jeff Ballard on drums, the group takes on a wide ranging and diverse set of material and arranges it for piano trio. From the jazz arena, the group performs two classics from the hard bop era, “Brownie Speaks” by Clifford Brown and “Airegin” by Sonny Rollins. They breeze through these songs, making them sound effortless in their pithy improvisations. The pop covers range widely, from the ancient rock anthem “Hey Joe” which had been played by everyone from Jimi Hendrix to Love and beyond. Things slow down a little too much on Elvis Costello’s ballad “Baby Plays Around” which lingers for ten minutes at a mournful, melancholy pace. It’s redeemed by an excellent version of “Time Has Told Me” by the late British singer-songwriter Nick Drake. Mehldau had previously covered Drake’s “River Man” to excellent effect on a previous album and the air of pensive mystery fills the music beautifully here as well. This was an interesting album that pulls together the diverse influences that make up Brad Mehldau’s musical worldview. From jazz to pop and everything inbetween, all music is fair game, keeping the performances fresh and valid. Where Do You Start - amazon.com

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