Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Brad Mehldau - After Bach (Nonesuch Records, 2018)

I must admit that I know very little about classical music. My dad used to play it on the radio in the car when I was growing up, and I’ve read many interviews with musicians who speak about classical composers as inspirational figures. Like Keith Jarrett, Brad Mehldau is a musician the has the talent and inclination to co-exist in the jazz and classical realms, and this album comprises the pianist and composer’s recordings of compositions by Bach with each followed by an “After Bach” response piece written by Mehldau and inspired by each composition he covers, allowing him to develop a very interesting call and response format. Apparently Bach was an improviser in his own right, and this gives Mehldau license to state the original Bach composition, and then follow up with his his own original performance that allows him to improvise, not necessarily in the jazz tradition, but improvising in the European art music continuum. After Bach began with the work Mehldau first played a few years ago, when he was commissioned by Carnegie Hall, The Royal Conservatory of Music, The National Concert Hall, and Wigmore Hall. He called his commission Three Pieces After Bach, and then entering the recording studio, he forged an album that is bookended by two original compositions. The album begins with and original composition  “Before Bach: Benediction” and ends with his own “Prayer for Healing” which provide a meditative and thoughtful intro and outro and gives the music as a who a powerful emotional resonance. Overall, this album worked well, the piano is recorded beautifully and the music rings out and resonates, with an excellent sense of touch and feel in Mehldau’s piano playing. The music is quite pretty and enjoyable to listen too, for both jazz and classical fans. After Bach - amazon.com

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