on 5 July 2000
If you haven't heard of Brad Mehldau yet, this recording will certainly convince you that he is far more then a passing fancy. This pianist posseses incredible technical skills, but he manages to always let feeling prevail. This is not your average jazz trio either, bassist Larry Genadier and drummer Jorge Rossy supply him with different textures,and rhythms that are swinging and intellectual all at once. This trio is groundbreaking and I am sure will be looked back upon as trendsetters years from now.My favorite track on this Album is Mehldau's original "Unrequited", (of which he recently recorded another breathtaking version on his -Art of the duo- recording "Close Enough for Love" with vocalist Fleurine) which clearly demonstrates this approach. But there are some great treatments of standards on this one aswell.If you are getting your first Mehldau album this is a great way to start, it is more laid back then his two (fantastic!)'Live at the Vanguard' recordings. One of the most exciting jazzalbums I've heard in a long time.
'Songs' is the third of Brad Mehldau's Art of the Trio albums and its the best I've heard to date. The tunes are a mixture of old standards, such as 'Young at Heart', his own originals, of which I particularly like 'Songs' and a Radiohead cover.
Mehldau is an extraordinary Pianist, blessed with great technique and two seemingly completely independent hands. His touch on the ballad tunes is impeccable and I struggle to fault his playing. Perhaps if I was being very picky I might suggest that some of his fugue like improvisations are a little over the top, but its a style that I've only heard him play in, so with time I will probably appreciate it more and more.
These recordings date from the late 90's. I really wanted his new live CD/DVD thats just been released having seen a very positive review in a magazine, but these older discs were cheaper. Now I shall be buying all of them!
on 7 June 2010
This is a cumulative review of the nine trio albums recorded by Brad Mehldau (piano) with Larry Grenadier (double-bass) and Jorge Rossy (drums) between 1995-2005 and released under the Warner and Nonesuch labels. These are very special CDs to me (and I guess to many other jazz lovers). I keep going back to them when I want to hear some exceptional contemporary jazz. So I want to give a hopefully useful big picture to anyone new to Brad Mehldau willing to discover his first trio and start a collection.
Introducing Brad Mehldau (recorded March and April 1995), featuring Christina McBride (double-bass) and Brian Blade (drums) in the last three tracks, is a wonderful introduction to the young Mehldau, contributing with four inspired and fresh original compositions that have absolutely no problems next to the five well known standards. Brad personal style is yet to fully develop, anyway lyrical conceptions, tremendous improvisations and perfect technique are already there! Five stars.
Art of the Trio Volume 1 (recorded September 1996) is the first work where the distinctiveness of the Mehldau trio are presented: jazz standards, well known pop-rock songs and original compositions perfectly blended, mesmerizing harmony and interactions between the three musicians, seducing improvisations exploring harmonies and rhythms. Five stars.
Art of the Trio Volume 2 (recorded live at the Village Vanguard July-August 1997) is an all standards session where the trio totally unleashes its improvising potential, giving fresh and passionate renditions of never-heard-in-this-way renowned compositions. Five stars.
Art of the Trio Volume 3 (recorded May 1998) set a mellower and more introspective tone, moving between original compositions, standards and extraordinary readings of Radiohead and Nick Drake songs. Possibly the most romantic and leisurely recording of the Mehldau trio. Five stars plus!
Art of the Trio Volume 4 (recorded live at the Village Vanguard January 1999) combines the great energy and freshness of Vol. 2 with the lyrical intimacy of Vol. 3, with the trademark perfect combinations of original compositions, well-known standards and Radiohead for the great finale. Five stars plus!
Places (recorded January and March 2000) departs from the previous formulas, offering only original compositions with 7 of the 13 tracks featuring solo piano. The mood is in many ways similar to Vol. 3, however melancholy seems to prevail over romanticism. The work of the two hands on the piano keyboard is equally beautiful in the trio and solo pieces, anyway when the piano is alone there are absolutely moving interactions between the left and right, producing highly lyrical atmospheres. Five stars plus!
Art of the Trio Volume 5 (recorded live at the Village Vanguard September 2000), a 2-CD set basically offers the same moods of Vol. 4 in a more extended and complete format. Swing and introspection, songs and jazz compositions, up-tempo pieces and ballads are beautifully mixed for this highly entertaining testimony of the evenings at the Village Vanguard with the Mehldau trio. Five stars.
Anything Goes (recorded October 2002) is an all standards album, needless to say masterly played by the trio. Their empathy is at the top, their personal style fully developed and instantly recognizable. A great pleasure to hear these passionate interpretations of never-heard-in-this-way famous compositions. Five stars.
House on Hill (recorded October 2002 plus two tracks recorded March 2005) is the last release from this Mehldau trio, as drummer Jeff Ballard has afterward taken the place of Jorge Rossy. All original compositions by Mehldau, as in the 2002 recording Places, whose melodies are in some way recalled from a different and brighter perspective. Moods float between introspection and cheerfulness, meditation and enticement. Five stars.
on 22 August 2002
With so many Ultimate ChillOut compilations out these days, it's good to be able to find the real thing, such as this breezy display of genius. If for no other reason, the album is worth checking out for the sublime interpretation of Radiohead's Exit Music - this music was elegantly employed in and added much needed class to the recent Richard Gere movie 'Unfathful' - and is one of the most sensual pieces of music you're ever likely to hear. I'm not a real Jazz fan, so I can heartily recommend this to anyone a little shy of venturing in the classical or jazz direction.