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PBS News Hour Video Features Brad and Joshua Redman Discussing Jazz Improvisation

Brad and Nonesuch labelmate Joshua Redman are featured in the PBS News Hour Feature for a new article, video and podcast. Following is text from the piece and video below.

Watch jazz greats Redman and Mehldau share a musical ‘conversation’

Jazzmen Joshua Redman and Brad Mehldau have been teaming up — Redman on saxophone, Mehldau on piano — then going their separate musical ways for 20 years or more, ever since they first crossed paths at the Village Vanguard and other New York City jazz clubs in the early 1990s.

Even as their separate and highly successful individual careers flourished over the years, their shared musical and personal bonds seemed always to pull them back together again, to record together. Tour together. To engage in what they call the “conversation” of jazz, improvisation and instinct guiding their way.

And so they have again come together, late in 2016. There is a new album, “Nearness,” a mix of jazz standards and their own compositions. And a recently completed concert tour, centered largely in Europe, but with its launch at New York City’s Jazz at Lincoln Center earlier this fall. Hours ahead of that performance, they shared a version of Mehldau’s song “Old West” with the NewsHour, performed for us in the privacy of the Steinway Piano Showroom in Manhattan.

You can learn much more about the artists and their creative process in Jeffrey Brown’s profile of them Tuesday on the PBS NewsHour.

Click on the video icon below to view the video:

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Brad Nominated Twice for the 59th Annual Grammy Awards

Brad has been nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Improvised Jazz Solo for his take on the Cole Porter tune "I Concentrate on You," from the new Brad Mehldau Trio album, Blues and Ballads. The album comprises interpretations of songs by other composers, with the focus on blues and ballads implied by the album’s title, also including works by Charlie Parker, Lennon & McCartney, and Jon Brion. "A spellbinding set whose salient features are subtlety and understatement," Mojo exclaims. "Sublime stuff." The Times of London says it's "sublimely satisfying." The New York Times calls it "beautiful."

Brad has also been nominated with label mate and longtime friend and collaborator Joshua Redman for the Grammy Award for Best Jazz Instrumental Album for their debut duo album, Nearness. "The pair are so well matched," says BBC Music Magazine. "Both are extraordinary, scintillating improvisers bursting with energy, yet they have great ears for one another." Mojo says: "They create a special telepathic musical synergy in each other’s company."

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Brad Featured on Guitarist Wolfgang Muthspiel's new CD, Rising Grace

Guitarist Wolfgang Muthspiel's new CD, Rising Grace, will be released on ECM records tomorrow. The band includes Ambrose Akinmusire on trumpet, Brad on piano, Larry Grenadier on bass and Brian Blade on drums.

Of the music, Brad says: "Wolfgang wrote some beautiful music here and assembled a special band. Ambrose's mysterious, beautiful trumpet playing is a delicate, unexpected foil to Wolfgang's playing and writing. Brian and Larry are at their best here, and Manfred Eicher's production yielded a pleasing, finely tuned result – I'm proud to be part of this recording." 

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Brad and Joshua Redman Embark on World Tour

Saxophonist Joshua Redman and pianist Brad Mehldau embark on a two-month world tour in support of their just-released duo album, Nearness. The tour starts at the Krannert Center in Urbana, Illinois, this Friday, followed by shows at the Dakota Jazz Club in Minneapolis, Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City, which the New York Times includes in its Fall Preview, and the Broad Stage in Los Angeles.

Melhdau and Redman then head to San Francisco for four nights at the SFJAZZ Center performing Mehldau’s acclaimed 2010 double album Highway Rider, October 6–9. As on the album, Mehldau will be joined by Redman; his Trio, bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Jeff Ballard; and a chamber orchestra led by conductor Dan Coleman. Another collaborator of Mehldau's, drummer Mark Guiliana, will join as well.

The duo launches the international leg of the Nearness tour in Asia in mid-October, with two nights at Blue Note Tokyo, a night at the Cotton Club in Tokyo, and shows in Seoul and Shanghai. Redman and Mehldau then head to Australia for shows in Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane, and to Europe for dates in Switzerland, Italy, Germany, France, Netherlands, and the UK in November.
See below for all of the currently announced tour dates; for all the latest, visit nonesuch.com/on-tour.

"Magic always seems to happen when saxophonist Joshua Redman and pianist Brad Mehldau play together," exclaims Mojo magazine in a review of Nearness. "They create a special telepathic musical synergy in each other’s company." BBC Music magazine gives the album a perfect five stars, explaining: "The pair are so well matched. Both are extraordinary, scintillating improvisers bursting with energy, yet they have great ears for one another." The Wall Street Journal says: "Few records released this year better define what jazz sounds like today."

Check out Brad's tour page for more information and dates:

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Joshua Redman and Brad Mehldau Reunite on Nearness, Available September 9 on Nonesuch

Longtime friends and collaborators release first duo album

“The sheer skill of these two musicians demanded sharp attention from start to finish.”
—The Boston Globe

“To listen to two of the leading US musicians of their generation communicating on stage so miraculously is to wonder why the attractive format of piano and saxophone hasn't been more commonplace in jazz.”
The Australian

Nonesuch Records releases saxophonist Joshua Redman and pianist Brad Mehldau’s Nearness, the longtime friends’ and collaborators’ first duo album, on September 9, 2016. Nearness, a selection of duets recorded live during their recentEuropean tour, is available for pre-order now at iTunes and nonesuch.com, where an instant download of the album track “Ornithology” is included with purchase.

Brad Mehldau first came to prominence as a member Joshua Redman’s quartet in the 1990s before becoming a bandleader himself. The pair first reunited in 2010 when Redman was featured on Mehldau’s album Highway Rider. In 2013, Mehldau was featured as a performer and producer on Redman’s Walking Shadows.

“It’s like one of those friendships where you don't see someone for a long stretch and then you fall right back where you left off,” Mehldau told the Ottawa Citizen when he and Redman performed at the city’s jazz festival in 2011. According to the Citizen's Peter Hum, these two friends are “among the most potent and influential jazz instrumentalists of their generation, and what Mehldau calls ‘picking up’ is in fact world-class improvising before rapt audiences.”

Each artist has recorded extensively for Nonesuch, with a wide variety of collaborators. Brad Mehldau’s label debut was the 2004 solo disc Live in Tokyo and includes six records with his trio: House on Hill, Day Is Done, Brad Mehldau Trio Live, Ode, Where Do You Start, and Blues and Ballads. His collaborative records on the label include Love Sublime, Highway Rider, Metheny Mehldau, Metheny Mehldau Quartet, Modern Music, and Mehliana: Taming the Dragon. Mehldau’s additional solo albums on Nonesuch include Live in Marciac and last year’s 8-LP/4-CD 10 Years Solo Live, which the New York Times says contains some of the most impressive pianism he has captured on record.”

Joshua Redman’s first album on Nonesuch was the Grammy-nominated Momentum, released in 2005. His other releases on the label include Back East, Compass, and Trios Live, all of which explore the trio format; Mood Swing, originally released in 1994 with Redman’s own band, including Mehldau, and re-released by Nonesuch in 2009; Walking Shadows, his first recording to include an orchestral ensemble, from 2013; and The Bad Plus Joshua Redman, his 2015 collaboration with the acclaimed trio, which the New York Times called “a knockout” and NPR called “a roaring and beautiful summit meeting.” In 2004, he was a founder of the SFJAZZ Collective, an eight-piece, multi-generational ensemble of accomplished musicians. Since 2009, Redman has been performing with a new collaborative group called James Farm, whose members also include pianist Aaron Parks, bassist Matt Penman, and drummer Eric Harland. The group has two releases on Nonesuch; their self-titled album from 2011, and City Folk, released in 2014.

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Joshua Redman and Brad Mehldau Reunite on "Nearness," New Album Due September 9 on Nonesuch

Nonesuch Records releases saxophonist Joshua Redman and pianist Brad Mehldau's Nearness, the longtime friends' and collaborators' first duo album, on September 9, 2016. Nearness, a selection of duets recorded live during their recent European tour, is available for pre-order now at iTunes and in the Nonesuch Store, where an instant download of the album track “Ornithology” is included with purchase. You can hear the track and find out where the duo will be performing together this fall below; for all the latest tour details, visit nonesuch.com/on-tour.

Joshua Redman & Brad Mehldau - Ornithology [Official Audio]

Brad Mehldau first came to prominence as a member Joshua Redman's quartet in the 1990s before becoming a bandleader himself. The pair first reunited in 2010 when Redman was featured on Mehldau's album Highway Rider. In 2013, Mehldau was featured as a performer and producer on Redman's Walking Shadows.

"It's like one of those friendships where you don't see someone for a long stretch and then you fall right back where you left off," Mehldau told the Ottawa Citizen when he and Redman performed at the city's jazz festival in 2011. According to the Citizen's Peter Hum, these two friends are "among the most potent and influential jazz instrumentalists of their generation, and what Mehldau calls 'picking up' is in fact world-class improvising before rapt audiences."

Each artist has recorded extensively for Nonesuch, with a wide variety of collaborators. Brad Mehldau's label debut was the 2004 solo disc Live in Tokyo and includes six records with his trio: House on Hill, Day Is Done, Brad Mehldau Trio Live, Ode, Where Do You Start, and Blues and Ballads. His collaborative records on the label include Love Sublime, Highway Rider, Metheny Mehldau, Metheny Mehldau Quartet, Modern Music, and Mehliana: Taming the Dragon. Mehldau's additional solo albums on Nonesuch include Live in Marciac and last year's 8-LP/4-CD 10 Years Solo Live, which the New York Times says "contains some of the most impressive pianism he has captured on record."

Joshua Redman's first album on Nonesuch was the Grammy-nominated Momentum, released in 2005. His other releases on the label include Back East, Compass, and Trios Live, all of which explore the trio format; MoodSwing, originally released in 1994 with Redman's own band, including Mehldau, and re-released by Nonesuch in 2009; Walking Shadows, his first recording to include an orchestral ensemble, from 2013; and The Bad Plus Joshua Redman, his 2015 collaboration with the acclaimed trio, which the New York Times called "a knockout" and NPR called "a roaring and beautiful summit meeting." In 2004, he was a founder of the SFJAZZ Collective, an eight-piece, multi-generational ensemble of accomplished musicians. Since 2009, Redman has been performing with a new collaborative group called James Farm, whose members also include pianist Aaron Parks, bassist Matt Penman, and drummer Eric Harland. The group has two releases on Nonesuch; their self-titled album from 2011, and City Folk, released in 2014.

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"Blues and Ballads" Continues to Receive Rave Notices

Brad Mehldau Trio's album "Blues and Ballads" continues to receive rave notices around the world. Following are two of the latest reviews from All About Jazz and Tone Audio:
 

Brad Mehldau Trio: Blues And Ballads

By DAN MCCLENAGHAN
Published: June 19, 2016

Call Brad Mehldau's Blues and Ballads the pianist's "Every Man Set." 

There has been, from the beginning of Mehldau's career, a sense of the cerebral in his approach, with its classical music influences and his deep technical virtuosity. Throw the sometimes dense and erudite writing for selected liner notes (mostly earlier in his career) into that mix, and "Too deep for me" might be a reaction of the perennial everyman. 

Except for the beauty. 

Mehldau, along with is often lofty intentions and classical influences, has always kept a firm grip on the more common man side of sounds: Paul McCartney's "Junk" on the masterpiece four disc 10 Year Solo (Nonesuch Records, 2015). Brian Wilson's "God Only Knows" from the same set. Burt Bacharach's "Alfie' from Day Is Done, (Nonesuch Records, 2005), (as fine a piano trio recording as you'll find); Paul Simon's "Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover" from that same set. Elvis Costello's "Baby Plays Around," from Where Do You Start (Nonesuch Records, 2012). These wonderful plebeian pieces considered beside—from the Mehldau oeuvre—Steve Reich's "Music for 18 Musicians," a segment of Philip Glass' "String Quartet No. 5," or Brahms' "Intermezzo in E Minor, Op.119: No.2. 

The trio opens Blues and Ballads with the memorable "Since I Fell For You," a 1945 tune penned by Buddy Johnson for his Buddy Johnson Orchestra, with his sister, Ella Johnson as vocalist. The tune attained huge popularity in 1963, when Lenny Welch's version hit number 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 list. The trio have slowed it down, so every nuance of mood and emotion in the tune can be savored. Drummer Jeff Ballard and bassist Larry Grenadier slip into a perfect accompanying mode, as opposed to the now more common style of equality of instrumental input that was pushed to the forefront by the Bill Evans Trio with bassist Scott LaFaro and drummer Paul Motian, in the late-fifties. But the rock solid accompanist style for the piano trio proves a refreshing approach, and well-suited to the music at hand. 

Elsewhere the trio explores the splendid simplicity of The Beatles "And I Love Her," the melodic genius of Cole Porter's "I Concentrate On You," the pretty poignancy of Jon Brion's "Little Person," the joyous buoyancy of Charlie Parker's "Cheryl," and finally closing out with a dour, melancholy—but lovely in its way—version of Paul McCartney's "My Valentine." All of this played out with a pared down style, getting to the essence of the compositions. 

Every recording by this top notch piano trio is a cause for celebration. This one is not an exception.

Track Listing: Since I Fell for You; I Concentrate on You; Little Person; Cheryl; These Foolish Things (Remind Me of You); And I Love Her; My Valentine.

Personnel: Brad Mehldau: piano; Larry Grenadier: bass; Jeff Ballard: drums.

Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: Nonesuch Records | Style: Modern Jazz


Brad Mehldau Trio - Blues and Ballads
by Kevin Whitehead

Brad Mehldau’s new trio album might have been called A Blues and Ballads—Charlie Parker’s “Cheryl” is the only blues of the seven tunes—or perhaps Blues in Ballads, since the pianist works bluesy figurations into “These Foolish Things” and Paul McCartney’s “My Valentine.”

Creative mix-and-match remains Mehldau’s modus. He minds tiny details that make all the difference—a barely grazed grace note, a sublime clinker buried in a chord, two lone notes harmonized (in very different ways) in a long lean run—as well as big, candelabra gestures. He’ll blurt out a smushed-up graceless cluster into an elegant line and make it right. His precise touch lets him foreground and background select notes in a complex run, and he has a keen sense of texture: Knows the value of open space, and of letting notes ring. He also improvises with intense focus. On “Cheryl,” he keeps relating his solo line back to the melody, one way or another: Covert paraphrase, a similar melodic contour, some tattered remnant of the original. He plays that melody in octaves, with two hands, you might assume—until he starts tossing off held chords on the side. 

He’s also good at nosing out jazz potential in contemporary pop. “Little Person” is a bittersweet Jon Brion movie ballad (from Synecdoche, New York) with the composer’s characteristically graceful jazz-adjacent harmony, a catchy hook, and bassist Larry Grenadier tolling like stately Percy Heath with the Modern Jazz Quartet. When Mehldau plays a song you know the words to, you can tell he knows them too. His phrasing reflects a vocal line even after he wanders off the melody. At four minutes, that one’s the airplay pick. I daresay his right hand sings “My Valentine” better than Sir Paul did. The tune is McCartney in romantic Michel Legrand big-ballad mode. Mehldau anchors it to a Bill Evans-like two-chord vamp, ever mutating. There’s a marvelous (tiny) moment a minute or so in, before the first time into bridge, when amidst the gossamer melodizing the pianist quietly slips in an uncouth high note, quickly redeemed when it’s revealed to be the start of a passing phrase one octave up. It’s a little window into the games he plays. 

There’s also one more (mostly) McCartney song and big movie ballad (from A Hard Day’s Night), “And I Love Her,” where Mehldau makes pivotal use of the four-note signature riff George Harrison cooked up. This number—one of three topping nine minutes—gets a bluesy rideout, where the pianist’s Keith Jarrett influence comes out: The rolling in the river. But his grooving is never absent-minded.

Grenadier and drummer Jeff Ballard, at the boss’ service, keep their textures transparent, so as not to block any piano frequencies. Bass volume doesn’t compete with piano. The drummer goes light on the cymbal wash, and can keep a backbeat firm without walloping. The pair remains ever-sensitive to the pianist’s sudden shifts. I miss them when Mehldau goes off on romantic rubato solo flights mid-performance—though he may use those breaks to alter the mood. 

The other selections are less unusual but get no less attention. “Since I Fell for You” has tinges of gospel cadences and, momentarily, chrome-plated Professor Longhair chords. The way Mehldau frames and embellishes the melody on a bossa-fied “I Concentrate on You” functions as a primer on his gifts: The hesitations, the constantly readjusted dynamics and changes in register, the way he’ll surround a simple phrase with a coiled-snake arpeggio or a smoky haze, the way he gives everything time to breathe when it would be so easy to overplay.

Nonesuch, LP or CD

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More Blues and Ballads Review Keep Coming In

Following are more reviews coming in for the the Brad Trio's new Blues and Ballads album:

‘Each track is a beautifully crafted, richly detailed miniature with its own tale to tell. Bass and drums are understated, underscoring the sensuous contours of each Mehldau narrative.’
– Financial Times * * * * *

‘A deceptively sweet-sounding set which is absolutely absorbing. Probably, only a musician of Mehldau’s extraordinary powers of invention can do this consistently and to such intense effect.’
– Observer * * * *

FINANCIAL TIMES – JUNE 4, 2016
Brad Mehldau Trio – Blues and Ballads (Nonesuch) * * * * *
The American pianist’s current trio has been together for over a decade, yet this set of covers is their first release since 2012.
Each track is a beautifully crafted, richly detailed miniature with its own tale to tell.
“Since I Fell for You” twins the bittersweet fatalism of the blues with torch-song romance, Charlie Parker’s “Cheryl” is taken at a precise, head-nodding lope while “And I Love Her” builds inexorably from contemplation to triumph.
Bass and drums are understated, underscoring the sensuous contours of each Mehldau narrative.
- Mike Hobart

OBSERVER – JUNE 5, 2016
Brad Mehldau Trio: Blues and Ballads (Nonesuch) review – extraordinarily inventive * * * * 
A deceptively sweet-sounding set which, once you cotton on to the pianist’s way of treating a few mainly well-known tunes, is absolutely absorbing. Instead of the usual jazz method of improvising on a tune over and over again, known as “playing choruses”, he plays the song with a few variations and then goes into a kind of free meditation on it. And every phrase is a cliffhanger. Probably, only a musician of Mehldau’s extraordinary powers of invention can do this consistently and to such intense effect, but it works for an old R&B tune, a blues by Charlie Parker and a Lennon-McCartney classic, among others. Bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Jeff Ballard complete the effect with simplicity and grace.
- Dave Gelly 

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Blues and Ballads Garnering Rave Reviews

Brad Mehlday Trio's brand-new album, Blues and Ballads is now available on Nonesuch and it's already receiving acclaim. Following are some early reviews:

Mojo Magazine

Stellar jazz pianist Mehldau again proves that three is the magic number […] Resurrecting the trio that has consistently advanced the jazz lexicon in the course of the past 20 years.  A spellbinding set whose salient features are subtlety and understatement.  Sublime stuff. – Mojo * * * *


The Times
MAY 27, 2016
Jazz: The Brad Mehldau Trio: Blues and Ballads * * * * *

What, no Radiohead? Brad Mehldau is adept at bending almost any music to the will of the jazz tradition, whether it’s alternative rock or, as heard at the Wigmore Hall last December, establishment baroque. Yet this album has his most traditional song selection yet: four jazz standards, a Beatles ballad and just two contemporary songs, both of which are pretty much Tin Pan Alley pastiches.

The American pianist plays these standards satisfyingly straight before dragging them into surprising, yet logical, emotional territories. So I Concentrate on You starts out as the suave samba we expect but builds into a full-bodied frenzy. The supper-club sophistication of These Foolish Things segues into an unaccompanied solo that, while never straying far from the tune, turns it into unpicked embroidery.

The album’s other surprise lies in the first half of its title. We are used to Mehldau’s self-absorbed, Keith Jarrett-like ballad-playing, but the blues? Yet this most cerebral of swingers does get fairly down and dirty on this sublimely satisfying album, even if he never quite loses his poise. His rawness on Since I Fell For You is a revelation while on Charlie Parker’s Cheryl he is Monkish and meaty.

There is blues of a more noirish shade on My Valentine, a song Paul McCartney wrote for his own recent standards album. Here the tone oscillates intriguingly between the brooding and the bucolic. Mehldau steals the riff from Stolen Moments for the theme, then after a gritty bass solo from Larry Grenadier, plays an uplifting cadenza. The drummer Jeff Ballard’s shuffling brushes tie it together.

McCartney the composer is also behind the album’s other highlight, an exhilarating version of And I Love Her. The original’s famous four-note guitar hook, often jettisoned in jazz versions, here becomes a recurring leitmotiv, initially as a sullen scene-setter, finally in ringing block chords as Mehldau’s solo reaches a crescendo. Yet another rhapsodic rollercoaster from this master of romantic complexity. (NonesuchChris Pearson

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Brad Mehldau Trio Returns with "Blues and Ballads," Due June 3 on Nonesuch

Nonesuch Records releases the Brad Mehldau Trio's Blues and Ballads, the trio's first new release since 2012s Where Do You Start, on June 3, 2016.

Nonesuch Records releases the Brad Mehldau Trio’s Blues and Ballads, the trio’s first new release since 2012’s Where Do You Start, on June 3, 2016. Blues and Ballads comprises interpretations of songs by other composers, this time with the focus on blues and ballads implied by the album’s title, including works by Cole Porter, Charlie Parker, Lennon & McCartney, and Jon Brion. Blues and Ballads is available to pre-order with an instant download of the album track "Little Person.”

Visit the Album page for more info, listen to "Little Person" and pre-order CD, MP3 and LP >

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Nonesuch Releases Brad Mehldau’s 10 Years Solo Live 8-LP Vinyl Box Set October 16

Decade of live recordings from European concerts curated into 4 thematic 4-side sets: Dark/Light, The Concert, Intermezzo/Rückblick, and E Minor/E Major
 

“Mehldau is a modern jazz star often characterized as a cerebral explorer, a dynamic, incisive improviser…  In fact, the guy is a lot of fun, too… [He] has forged a singular style that has not only enhanced jazz's musical vocabulary but modernised it too … beautiful and direct ….”— Mojo
 

Nonesuch Records releases Brad Mehldau’s 10 Years Solo Live eight-LP vinyl box set October 16, 2015. The set is culled from 19 live recordings made over a decade of the pianist’s European solo concerts and is divided into four thematic subsets of four sides each: Dark/Light, The Concert, Intermezzo/Rückblick, and E Minor/E Major. The complete track listing is on the next page. 10 Years Solo Live will be released digitally and on CD the following month; pre-orders are available now at nonesuch.com and include in instant download of the album track “Waltz for J. B.”

As Mehldau explains in his liner note for the album, “Although it totals around 300 minutes, the order of songs is not arbitrary, and I have tried to tell a story from beginning to end in the way I’ve sequenced it.” He continues, “There is a theme and character given to each four-side set.” 

Of the Dark/Light theme, he says, “In concerts, I find that I contrast dark and light emotional energies and highlight the way they depend on each other. Sides 1–4 focus on this dichotomy in pairs, beginning with the dark energy of Jeff Buckley’s ‘Dream Brother,’ which is followed by the grace of Lennon/McCartney’s ‘Blackbird.’” He further says, “Although the songs on Sides 5–8 (The Concert) come from different concerts, on this set, I arranged them in a sequence similar to that I would perform in a single concert in 2010–11,” he continues. 

“The third set could be thought of as Intermezzo and Rückblicklike in character. I’m thinking of the penultimate movement of Brahms’s Third Piano Sonata with that title. Rückblick means a look backward, perhaps a reappraisal. Brahms’s Intermezzo movement was a look back at what had taken place in his Sonata before moving to the final movement. Here, the listener is invited to look back to music that was recorded 10 or more years ago, in 2004 and 2005.” Mehldau explains that his approach to the sequence of the fourth set “is to focus on the rub between the keys of E minor and E major. I return to the theme of dark and light from the first set, now allowing the listener to focus on how ‘dark’ and ‘light’ might manifest in tonality.” 

Brad Mehldau played in a number of different ensembles, including label mate Joshua Redman’s quartet, before becoming a bandleader himself in the 1990s. The Brad Mehldau Trio made eight recordings for Warner Bros., including the five Art of the Trio albums with former drummer Jorge Rossy (released as a boxed set by Nonesuch in 2011). The pianist’s years with Nonesuch have been equally productive, beginning in 2004 with the solo disc Live in Tokyo and including five trio records—Day Is Done, House on Hill, Live, Ode, and Where Do You Start—as well as a collaboration with soprano Renée Fleming, Love Sublime; a chamber ensemble album, Highway Rider; two collaborations with label mate Pat Metheny, Metheny Mehldau and Quartet; a CD/DVD set of live solo performances, Live in Marciac; and collaborations with Kevin Hays and Patrick Zimmerli on Modern Music. Last year, Nonesuch released the debut from Mehldau’s electric duo with Mark Guiliana, Mehliana: Taming the Dragon. He also produced Redman’s 2013 release Walking Shadows.

Mehldau has performed around the world at a steady pace for 25 years, with his trio, with other collaborators, and as a solo pianist, building a large and loyal audience. “It is actually strange, this whole business of performance. It is a direct, intense kind of empathy with a group of total strangers that lasts around 90 minutes. And then, it’s over, and everyone goes home. I go back to a hotel room and go to bed,” the pianist says in his Ten Years Solo Live note. “Something happened, but what was most vital about it can’t really be put in words. It is sweet, kind of bittersweet. In any case, it is not enough to say that the different audiences were important for the creation of this music. They were absolutely necessary; they were pivotal. Without those audiences, this music would not exist in the way it does.”


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Brad to Perform with Fleurine in Amsterdam on June 28

Brad will be performing at the famous club in Amsterdam, Bimhuis, in a duo performance accompanying the singer Fleurine. The date is Sunday evening, June 28.

Heartwarming combination of the enchanting voice of Fleurine and the incomparable piano from Brad Mehldau. "Full of subtle impact and deft timing" (The Guardian).

The Dutch-American singer Fleurine is internationally renowned for her exquisite voice, virtuoso its timing and its original lyrics by jazz compositions by Monk and Joshua Redman. With pianist Brad Mehldau she shares the love songs, jazz standards and pop songs to Brazilian gems. Their duo album Close Enough For Love example, contains work by Jimi Hendrix and Pat Metheny, original compositions and lyrics in English, French and Portuguese.

Fleurine fourth at the start of her career success with her trio with Jesse van Ruller and Johan Plomp. Her debut album Meant To Be! the best-selling jazz CD was in the Netherlands in the 90s. A meeting at the North Sea Jazz Festival in 1997 led to collaboration with Brad Mehldau, who developed the most influential jazz pianist of his generation.

"Fleurine's emphasis is on musicality; in each case, her warm, enveloping sound and gentle, rhythmic drive transforms the song into something well beyond the original sources. And the inclusion of some well-crafted originals, attest to the broad reach or her talents "(Los Angeles Times).

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Jazz Supports Disability Pride NYC

On January 8, at The Quaker Friends Meeting Hall in New York City, there’ll be a fundraising concert, billed as “Jazz Legends Play for Disability Pride NYC.” The concert, with the support of the annual NYC Winter Jazzfest, will feature Brad Mehldau (pictured above), Ron Carter, Benny Golson, Jimmy Cobb, Harold Mabern, George Coleman, Bill Charlap, Renee Rosnes and others.

Disability Pride NYC is a non-profit started by keyboardist Mike LeDonne, whose 10-year-old daughter is disabled. The organization’s goal is to establish an annual Disability Pride Parade in New York City and to support people with disabilities. The inaugural Disability Pride Parade will be held July 12, 2015, in Manhattan, and will coincide with the 25th anniversary of former President George H.W. Bush’s signing of the Americans with Disability Act.

The concert will take place from 7 p.m. until 9:30 p.m. at The Quaker Friends Meeting Hall, which is near 15th Street and 3rd Avenue. All ticket purchases are for general admission and are tax deductible. They can be purchased at (Le) Poisson Rouge and by phone at (212) 505-3474.

For more information, go to www.disabilitypridenyc.com.

Photo credit: Augusta Quirk

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Brad part of Liberation Chorus remembering Charlie Haden

Jeff Ballard, Larry Grenadier and I were playing in L.A. just a few months ago and on the way out of town we got to visit Charlie and his wife Ruth at their home. Charlie was suffering a lot and we talked with him and Ruth about the post-polio syndrome that had consumed their lives for the last several years. Ruth is a dynamo, an incredibly strong and devoted woman, and was the best partner for Charlie through all of their trials. God bless her. They had been to a variety of different specialists in different parts of the world and had run the gamut from Occidental medicine to a macrobiotic diet. The treatments had helped and brought some temporary recovery - two years ago, Charlie and Ruth came to see us play in a double bill concert with The Bad Plus and Joshua Redman in L.A. and he looked great and was in good spirits, saying he was starting to play again.

(Photo by Ruth Cameron: King, Haden, Redman, Ballard, Anderson, Grenadier, Iverson, Mehldau.)

(Photo by Ruth Cameron: King, Haden, Redman, Ballard, Anderson, Grenadier, Iverson, Mehldau.)

Eventually he succumbed to the complications of the illness, but not without a valiant fight from Ruth and himself.

When we saw Charlie last, he played us a record that he was hoping to release soon. It was a live duo performance with guitarist Jim Hall, another recently passed jazz musician who embodied some of the same musical principles that inspire me so much from Charlie: A total commitment to melody at all times; within that constant melody, the unmistakable unbroken thread of a song; and whether in a supporting role for another soloist or out front himself, the complete absence of arbitrary playing. How can we avoid playing arbitrary, glib musical ideas, yet remain intuitive and not get locked into something in the white heat of improvisation? These are the things that Charlie demonstrated to me when I played with him, often with the great Lee Konitz and more recently with the late great Paul Motian.

And there are all the records that inspired us and will continue to inspire: Charlie and Ed Blackwell with the paradigm changing early Ornette Coleman Quartet, Charlie and Ed Blackwell later in Old and New Dreams, Charlie and Billy Higgins on the early Ornette records and later on great records from Pat Metheny like Rejoicing. The list of great associations could go on, with musicians like Keith Jarrett and Paul Motian. I just mention these two rhythm sections that were big for me in my formative years as a musician and that I go back to still - they created such a strong feeling.

The feeling is not something you can parse too well with words, but some of its characteristics are: An untouchable, eternal hipness. A feeling of dance, with an element of danger. Sometimes, something like a polished diamond, precious to behold, unbreakable. Other times, just as remarkable: Something like a sand sculpture or mandala - a beauty that is breaking apart and blowing away, disappearing even as you witness it. A confrontation with mortality - a reckoning, but maybe a kind of acceptance or even a celebration. That unbreakable feeling and that feeling of ultimate vulnerability meet together in Charlie's perfect tune, "Silence."

Charlie talked a lot about Scott LaFaro -LaFaro was big for him. They came up at the same time and both opened up what the bass could do in jazz in different ways; LaFaro was taken early by tragedy and Charlie went on. That affected Charlie. Charlie loved be-bop, and he loved singers. He loved the period right after Bird had passed and right before hard-bop become codified into something more defined and less open-ended - maybe because that was the period in the early 50's when he was coming up. He talked about piano players like Elmo Hope and Herbie Nichols a lot. Charlie talked about Billie Hollyday with special reverence, having met her once when he was very young. He also loved singers from the great 50's era like Jeri Southern and June Christy. Charlie was married to a singer, and more recently had made a project with Ruth, as well as the Art of The Song, which featured musical soulmates like Shirley Horn.

Besides Ruth, Charlie leaves behind a legacy in his four children - the triplets, Rachel, Petra and Tanya; and his son Josh. They are all remarkably gifted, creative people. Check out their music. My heart goes out to Charlie's extended family at this time. I thank Ethan for giving a forum here for people to share their thoughts on Charlie. Let's all celebrate the legacy of Charlie Haden!

Read the complete "Liberation Chorus" from Charlie Haden's extended family of musicians on Ethan Iverson's "Do the Math" blog >

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Legendary Jimmy Cobb New Album Features Brad

Brad is proud to be playing on a new release from the legendary master jazz drummer who put his unmistakable vibe on records like Miles Davis' Kind of Blue – the one and only Jimmy Cobb. This is the same group that Jimmy put together in the early 1990's and recorded and performed as "Cobb's Mob." The longtime collaborator and influence on Brad, guitarist Peter Bernstein, and stellar bassist, John Webber, are the other two members of the quartet. It's a strong, swinging set of music that shows Jimmy Cobb on the top of his game, unstoppable as ever. The Original Mob is part of the Smoke Sessions series, produced and recorded at the prestigious Smoke Jazz Club in New York City.

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The Village Voice: The 10 Best Jazz Shows in NYC This Month

New York City's venerable The Village Voice has named Brad's upcoming shows at the Village Vanguard as one of the best Jazz shows in May. The Brad Mehldau Trio will perform on May 6-11. Following is the text from the article:
 

Brad Mehldau Trio
An unstoppable force on piano since his emergence in the mid-'90s, Brad Mehldau has raised the bar for instrumentalists across the board, collaborating with the likes of Jon Brion, Pat Metheny, Chris Thile and most recently drummer Mark Guiliana on the electronic jazz feast Taming the Dragon (Nonesuch). At the Village Vanguard (May 6-11) Mehldau returns to the source of it all with his acoustic trio featuring bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Jeff Ballard. The band's 2012 Nonesuch efforts Ode and Where Do You Start, focusing on originals and covers respectively, spill over with harmonic invention and interpretive finesse.

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"Mehliana: Taming the Dragon" Now on Vinyl

Mehliana: Taming the Dragon is now available on vinyl from Nonesuch.

Mehliana: Taming the Dragon, the debut album from the electric duo of Brad Mehldau and Mark Guiliana, released late last month on CD and digitally on Nonesuch Records, is now available on vinyl. Mehldau and Guiliana have been performing for several years, with Mehldau playing Fender Rhodes and synthesizers and Guiliana on drums and effects, as they are on the record. Mehliana comprises 12 original tunes—six written by the duo and six written by Mehldau—and was engineered and mixed by Greg Koller (Jon Brion, Kanye West). The vinyl edition of the album includes two 140-gram LPs pressed at Pallas MFG in Diepholz, Germany, and a CD of the album; Nonesuch Store orders include a download of the complete album at checkout.

Following its CD release, Mehliana: Taming the Dragon was described as "astonishing" by Jazzwise magazine, "one of the best albums of 2014." It earned four stars from the Guardian and from MusicOMH, which calls it "wholly absorbing ... an intuitive, compelling dialogue between the two musicians." 

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Mehliana – Taming the Dragon Reviews

Brad's new album project with drummer Mark Guiliana, "Mehliana – Taming the Tiger" is receiving outstanding reviews from a variety of music publications. Following are excerpts and links to complete articles.


TELERAMAN (FRANCE)

Pianist Brad Mehldau takes power off with the drummer Mark Guiliana.

What is the tamed dragon here? The electricit . Brad Mehldau, the undisputed master of modern piano, as influential as was the Bill Evans, one day should pass electricity – Fender Rhodes, Moog synthesizer – it was not foreseeable. Yet listening to Taming the dragon, one is struck by a sense of obvious necessity. It seems that the duo Mehldau form with drummer Mark Guiliana plays hard, for some. The advantage of the disc is to set oneself noise. However, we recommend to listen too low. This is music that is full of vital energy: the opening, Taming the dragon piece, gives the feeling of a solar flare. Brad Mehldau is no longer anything the fertile young man emotions: it is a mature man who approaches music as a warrior, a samurai, decided to victory. Luxury continues in the same vein, with intransigence decision without pardon. Phrases keyboardist are all fireworks, looking less seduction (never a prettiness) the material ecstasy. You can not go back now, ironic title because the song starts with piano chords, get in electrical depths of what we stir bloods and moods.

Mark Guiliana, which had been relatively conventional in the trio of Avishai Cohen, strives here to give a human resonance loops of rhythm machine, with a share of madness that makes this duo a staggering originality. Indeed, since Weather Report, had not heard of electric jazz as impressive. We listen to the fourth beach, The Dreamer (which still means the melodic inspiration Brad pianist), and we know that this writing duo intrepidity a page of history. 

– Michel Contat


ALL ABOUT JAZZ

Amidst all the heat and jagged angularity, there are still moments of beauty to be found. "The Dreamer," another collaborative composition, is driven by processed acoustic piano, a searing synth line and electronically processed percussion, but at its core it's a ballad—even one that Mehldau could easily transfer to his acoustic trio to demonstrate an inner funky bad self that rarely surfaces in that context—albeit one that concludes with more spoken word that links into the story of the title track as an assessment of dreams and the dreamer who dreams them.


IRISH TIMES

Even by Mehldau’s own standards, Mehliana: Taming the Dragon is a bold move, and one that may surprise, even alarm devoted followers of his acoustic playing. Teaming up with trail-blazing percussionist Mark Guiliana, Mehldau lays his talented hands on an array of electric keyboards, including the gorgeous Fender Rhodes, a prepared upright piano, and a winking bank of old-school 1970s synths. Rarely do both hands play the same keyboard at any given moment. And rarely has new music sounded so damned exciting.


SOMETHING ELSE

There’s a sense, though, if you put those surface arguments aside, that Mehldau has finally found a space where he can challenge himself — having so firmly established his own voice, his own style, even his own tics, in straight-ahead circles. Within Guiliana’s taut, propulsive cadences, Mehliana: Taming the Dragon uncovers the humor in his playing again, the impish creativity — successfully dynamiting, along the way, what had typically become a why-so-serious demeanor. And it makes those rare moments of relative stillness, those times (as on the gorgeous “Dreamer”) when Mehldau’s more familiar piano figures move to the fore, all the more revelatory in their stark beauty.


THE GUARDIAN

Brad Mehldau, master of slow-burning, classically inflected acoustic piano improv, gets down and dirty with Mehliana, the electronics duo he shares with jazz, hip-hop and drum'n'bass percussionist Mark Guiliana.


BEYOND CHRON

Their debut effort is entitled, "Taming the Dragon", a collection of some of their best forays that will be familiar to fans of their live shows, as well as some material not heard or seen live. Mehliana's use of vintage synthesizers, and their incredible grasp of both jazz and modern electronica is a joy to witness live, (They performed at both SF Jazz and the Independant recently); happily, their new album captures those moments and more.


MUSIC OMH

Taming The Dragon is also wholly absorbing, as Mehldau’s playfulness and Guiliana’s taut, interwoven grooves create an inescapable tension. Pieces such as the delightful, slow building Hungry Ghost even seem to draw from the approaches of post rock acts such asSigur Rós or Tortoise. The use of sampled voices and stories (narrated by Mehldau himself in a delightfully dry tone) serve to enhance the mysterious atmosphere.


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