'Take Five': Brad Mehldau Revises Bach

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Monday March 12, 2018


Dan Weiss Mixes Metals, Sara Serpa Goes Deep and Brad Mehldau Revises Bach, in Take Five
By: Nate Chinen

Brad Mehldau, “After Bach: Rondo”

From a certain angle, After Bach feels inevitable: a solo piano meditation on J.S. Bach by a jazz pianist profoundly influenced by his language. That’s accurate, though Brad Mehldau has more in mind here. The album, just out on Nonesuch, was premiered as a concert commission a few years ago. It features four preludes and a fugue, interspersed with improvisational responses — so the “after” in the title is meant two ways, as an indication of sequence as well as influence. “After Bach: Rondo,” which follows Prelude No. 3 in C# Major from The Well-Tempered Clavier, opens with a genteel flourish. (It faintly evokes “John Boy,” from Mehldau’s 2014 album Highway Rider.) But the improvisation takes the piece through a range of permutations, and it’s worth following Mehldau’s train of thought to the finish.

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