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REVIEW: All About Jazz, "Ode"

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Wednesday March 21, 2012

_from allboutjazz.com

Brad Mehldau Trio: Ode (2012)
By: John Kelman

The Art of the Trio: Recordings 1996-2001 (Nonesuch, 2011) provided an opportunity to reassess Brad Mehldau’s rapid trajectory, though the trio that established him as one of the past two decades’ most important pianists was long gone. If Jorge Rossy’s replacement in 2005 seemed to open the trio up more, it’s perhaps because drummer Jeff Ballard is a more assertive conversationalist, as demonstrated from the get-go on “Knives Out,” the first track on Mehldau’s debut with this updated incarnation, Day is Done (Nonesuch, 2005). It’s a feeling immediately reaffirmed on “M.B.,” the opener to Ode, Mehldau’s first trio recording since Live (Nonesuch, 2008).

While Mehldau’s trio was his primary focus for the first decade of his career, the past seven years have seen him busier in a multiplicity of contexts, from solo performances like the stellar Live in Marciac (Nonesuch, 2011) and the ambitious Highway Rider (Nonesuch, 2010), with its larger cast of characters, to collaborations with guitarist Pat Metheny on Metheny Mehldau (Nonesuch, 2006) and Quartet (Nonesuch, 2007), and his more recent trifecta with pianist Kevin Hays and composer/arranger Patrick Zimmerli, Modern Music (Nonesuch, 2011). If Mehldau’s trio plays fewer gigs and records less often these days, that just means that any release is to be eagerly anticipated, and Ode doesn’t disappoint.

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