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Highway Rider

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Editors’ Notes

In 2002, pianist and composer Brad Mehldau released Largo, a collaboration with Jon Brion. With its bracing mix of jazz, pop, and electronics, Largo grabbed attention and went on to become a landmark recording. A few years later, Mehldau and Brion reconvened to create a sprawling 2-CD release, 2010’s Highway Rider. The album’s excellent five-piece band — Mehldau, drummer Jeff Ballard, bassist Larry Grenadier, saxophonist Joshua Redman, and drummer Matt Chamberlain — is joined by an orchestra led by Dan Coleman on several cuts. All of the pieces, including the orchestral arrangements, were written by Mehldau. Highway Rider is an ambitious work but not a ponderous one. Listening to its 100 minutes is a pleasure: the album manages to flow throughout, and the various instrumental groupings keep things fresh. The inventive opener, “John Boy,” signals that this isn’t ordinary jazz-meets-strings fare and the album is quite a ride right up to and including its dramatic closer, “Always Returning,” which features an extended piano statement.


Born: 23 August 1970 in Jacksonville, FL

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

During the '90s and into the 2000s, Brad Mehldau was one among a plethora of young jazz pianists who rose to prominence. He is one of the more absorbing and thoughtful practitioners within that idiom, and he is receptive to the idea of using material from the rock era (Paul McCartney's "Blackbird," for example). Though Mehldau's training is primarily classical, his interest in jazz began early. He played in the Hall High School jazz band of Hartford, Connecticut, winning the Berklee College of Music's...
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Highway Rider, Brad Mehldau
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