Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Brad Mehldau

Unseating the great Keith Jarrett, Brad Mehldau has recently become my all-time favorite jazz pianist. His style is actually quite similar to Jarrett's; they share the same meditative tendencies and some of the same rhythmic patterns. Bill Evans is another pianist Mehldau is often compared to. You can hear Mr. Evans from time to time in Mehldau's chord voicings: dense, but never so dense as to overwhelm the melody.

Though Mehldau draws heavily on his influences, he has a sound all his own. The most striking aspect of his playing, in my opinion, is his left hand technique: a near-constant avalanche of sound, a little like the old "stride piano" technique - think Ragtime on speed. When he really gets going Mehldau can sound chaotic and urgent, but rarely will he abandon the basic structure of the song and head off into avant-garde territory; you can always hear where Mehldau is going.

The bassist and drummer he regularly plays with, Larry Grenadier and Jorge Rossy respectively, form the Brad Mehldau Trio - an amazing group not just for their musical talent, but for the songs and artists they choose to cover: Radiohead, The Beatles and Nick Drake on almost every album.

There's a lot of Beatles covers out there, but "She's Leaving Home," off their latest album "Day is Done," kicks the pants off 'em all. You can almost hear the lyrics as Mehldau plays.

A Radiohead cover, from the album "Largo:" "Paranoid Android."

From the album "Places:" "Los Angeles II" This is a great example of that persistent left hand I was talking about.

"Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover," from "Day is Done" is an unusual cover: the melody doesn't properly come in until the end. Perhaps my favorite Mehldau Trio track, it's worth the wait; when everything finally kicks in I can't help but dance.

Here's the full album "Day is Done," if you're already familiar with Brad Mehldau or were just really impressed with the sample tracks.
*** I fixed the link; now it's on rapidshare and should work just fine ***


At February 10, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

great blog. you sold me on Brad - I tried a couple of the single tracks, but the links didn't seem to work, so I went for the album: it's great! very clean crisp pianism, locked in with fantastic rhythm section..

At February 12, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love the original songs and i had a shock listening these versions.. This guy is a genious! Beautiful album

At February 12, 2006, Blogger Papa Jazz said...

I love Brad Mehldau!

At February 14, 2006, Blogger Miss F said...

thank you so much for sharing this wonderful album. i downloaded this album after seeing your post. never heard of Mr. Mehldau before now. i wish i could share some intelligent music-related comments about him, but i guess a simple I LUUURVE this wouLd suffice.

keep up the great blog.

(request: Bela Bartok)

At February 19, 2006, Blogger acoustiss said...

I like Meldhau, but my all time favourite living jazz pianist is Fred Hersch. I have only one CD 'let yourself Go' but it is wonderful.
But thanks for the Meldhau which I am enjoying.

At March 17, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was talking to a guy last night and we were talking about jazz music.He said to download some of Brad Mehldau's, I love "Blackbird".He is an awesome!!
cute too! :)


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