I got very bored of Mehldau's trios after listening to House On Hill from 2006. Also, I was becoming aware that they were becoming better known for their covers more than their original work - much of which was quite forgettable and bland. Bad Plus also suffered from the same fate, despite having some really good original numbers - take Big Eater for instance!
I am so glad I took a punt on this album, knowing it was a nothing but originals. It is a really enjoyable recording and it's plainly obvious we are listening to a trio on top form and having plenty of fun doing it. The irony is, this is probably largely due to the fact that some of the originals here sound like they could be covers of popular songs. They sound so familiar yet different and new at the same time. The themes are very well penned and the interplay between the three of them is so tight and impressive. The improvisations are just wild enough to keep the listener on their toes, whilst still remaining close enough to the feel of the tune. Some of the themes are a bit EST-like*, which is no bad thing.
The recording quality is by far the best so far of Mehldau's output. Every nuance can be heard and the balance is just perfect. I am reconverted to Mehldau's sound again and am eagerly awaiting to hear more from him and them. Also, I hear Bad Plus have a new album out soon...
*Esbjorn Svensson Trio