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Brad Mehldau Bridges a Jazz Divide

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Thursday March 24, 2011

From Minnesota Public Radio

Brad Mehldau Bridges a Jazz Divide
By David Cazares

We all live to our own soundtrack. From the politics we follow, to the books we read and the music we listen to, many of us seem to be pursuing a singular course, sticking to what’s comfortable.

Breaking the boundaries that we impose on ourselves and listening to the other – while incorporating different perspectives into our own point of view – is rare. That’s just as unusual in music.

It’s refreshing to encounter a musician who explores other genres and styles as the pianist Brad Mehldau does on Live in Marciac. The album, released last month by Nonesuch Records, is his third solo recording.

Mehldau, a classically trained jazz pianist who usually plays with a trio, plays with precision and imagination on the CD, recorded at Marciac Jazz Festival in southwest France.

It’s a rare musician who shines in a solo performance, even on piano an instrument that offers the broadest pallet. But the 40-year-old does so remarkably on a diverse collection of tunes that include his original compositions, jazz standards and rock tunes. From Cole Porter’s It’s All Right With Me to the Lennon/McCartney tune Martha My Dear and Radiohead’s Exit Music (for a film), he takes the listener on a ride that spans several decades, telling stories along the way.

In a virtuoso performance, Mehldau builds on architecture and melody, delivering intimate, complex and intense interpretations of each song. He employs abrupt changes in tempo, gradual mood shifts, thunderous runs and repeated notes.

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