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LIVE REVIEW: Mehldau and Redman at the Symphony Center

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Wednesday April 18, 2012

from timeoutchicago.com

Mehldau and Redman at the Symphony Center | Review
By: Chris Bentley

It’s no small feat to keep jazz fresh in a symphony hall. Pianist Brad Mehldau and saxophonist Joshua Redman pulled it off Friday at the Symphony Center with a dignified energy befitting two of the most acclaimed jazz musicians to come out of the 1990s. “This is the best 2,500-seat jazz club,” cracked Redman. The two played with a sensibility drawn from both the blues-soaked bop greats of yore and the romantic composers for whom the concert hall was designed.

The absence of a rhythm section—save for Mehldau’s autonomous left hand—gave the duo room to explore that fertile ground. On “Monk’s Dream,” Mehldau played with an unhurried lyricism and organic sense of meter that recalled Thelonious Monk’s own sense of humor and oddball rhythm.

At times the crystal clear tones of the Steinway grand piano were dangerously close to sounding too clean, even stately. Not that either musician shies from grittiness—Redman grinned and shouted with Mehldau’s left-hand rumbles. And how often does the Sinfonietta come back for an encore of Jimi Hendrix’s “Hey Joe”?

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