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Interview: Brad Mehldau Discusses His Past and Future

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Wednesday October 24, 2012

From The Hartford Courant

Brad Mehldau To Give Solo Concert In Asylum Hill
By: Owen McNally

Whenever Brad Mehldau, an internationally acclaimed pianist who grew up in West Hartford, comes home again to play in Connecticut, his performance is invariably one of the premier jazz events of the year.

Mehldau, an artist whose imaginative, elegant work has, among other triumphs, redefined the art of the jazz piano trio, will play a solo piano concert Thursday at 7:30 p.m. in the sanctuary at Hartford’s historic Asylum Hill Congregational Church.

Even as a gifted youngster at the nationally acclaimed jazz program at West Hartford’s Hall High School (class of 1988), Mehldau was already showing signs of not merely being an advanced instrumentalist of enormous promise, but was also an independent spirit with an inquiring mind and an irrepressible passion to create something new and original, young ideals that have become his lifetime quest.

All those qualities, seasoned now by nearly a quarter-century of intense performing, recording, composing, leading his own groups and in collaborations with everybody from jazz superstar Pat Metheny to opera diva Renée Fleming, will be on display in the sanctuary at the jazz-friendly Asylum Hill Congregational Church.

If you love piano playing, whether jazz, classical or pop, a Mehldau solo concert is, as the old Duke Ellington expression goes, “beyond category.” Pianophiles can bask in Mehldau’s touch, tone, rich harmonies, melodic invention, flowing phrases, sense of swing and deep lyricism, rippling contrapuntal thoughts and bright, fresh surprises emanating from all 88 keys.

From his home in New York City where he lives with his wife and their three children, Mehldau recently engaged in an e-mail interview with The Courant.

Q: You’ve traveled the world with your trio and as a soloist. What goes through your mind when you go home again? Was the novelist Thomas Wolfe right or wrong when he wrote that you can’t go home again?

A: I take his words to mean that everything is always changing, so home will not be what it was like years ago — for me it’s 24 years and change since I lived in West Hartford. But change is great in my perspective. If there is no change, then there would be no room for growth. It’s wonderful to see people grow up and grow old and wise. It’s great to see kids mature and blossom.

For the full interview click here