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Live In Marciac

Brad Mehldau

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Album Review

Brad Mehldau's latest solo recording, the two-CD/single-DVD Live in Marciac begins with two tracks that contrast his astonishing technical facility and his considerable inventive gift for empathic interpretation. The opening "Storm" is an original four-minute exercise in furious counterpoint, expansive layered harmony, and swinging ostinato; it's followed by a complex yet utterly inventive lyrical reading of Cole Porter's "It's All Right with Me" that not only underscores the lyric in its full harmonic voice, but expands upon it with low- and middle-register arpegiattic studies from Bach and Brahms without losing site of the tune. These are but two of the many surprises on this recorded in 2006. Mehldau ranges over his catalog to revisit his own compositions — including three from his celebrated first solo piano album Elegiac Cycle — "Resignation," "Trailer Park Ghost," and "Goodbye Storyteller." These new readings offer an aural view of how much more is in those songs as he's investigated them over the years. Among the performances here are healthy examples of Mehldau's love of rock and modern pop music, including Radiohead's "Exit Music (For a Film)," which closes disc one. Disc two kicks off with another contrasting study, this one music from two musicians who died at their own hands: a thoroughly imaginative reading of Nick Drake's "Things Behind the Sun" (that appeared first on the Live in Tokyo album) followed by its mirror image, Kurt Cobain's "Lithium," using the same percussive left-hand patterns with inverted changes and syncopated lyric accents (they appear as a medley on the DVD). Mehldau also delivers a lovely reading of Lennon & McCartney's "Martha My Dear," where he juxtaposes its sweet melody against a slightly angular, dissonant set of changes. The set closes with a deeply moving imaginative "My Favorite Things," followed by a funky, slamming take on Bobby Timmons' "Dat Dere" (which is missing from the DVD for some reason). For Mehldau's fans, this is another opportunity to hear just how creative and versatile he is, even with familiar material. For the uninitiated, this is a grand opportunity to acquaint yourself with one of the most gifted jazz pianists on the scene.

Customer Reviews

Brad Mehldau Live in Marciac

After a disastrous but critically acclaimed experiment with a string ensemble it is a relief to have Brad Mehldau back in form again in this live double album. A brilliant interpretation of Kurt Cobain’s grunge classic ‘Lithium’ and a riveting performance of Nick Drake’s ‘Things Behind the Sun’ are breathtaking examples of Mehldau’s ability to convert relatively simple popular songs into intricate jazz improvisations of rare intensity. His exciting reinterpretation of The Beatles’ ‘Martha My Dear’ shows his ability once again to find gold in unpromising material. Ballads like ‘Secret Love’ and ‘My Favourite Things’ are given tender and lyrical treatment without a hint of the saccharine kitsch that made ‘Highway Rider’ so disappointing. There are however a number of tracks where his daunting technique and awesome dexterity seem to overwhelm him. A riff driven number like ‘Unrequited’ nags the listener with seemingly endless repetitions in a vain attempt to drive the message home. He seems anxious to evade the problem of actually developing a theme, thereby creating a sense of musical time. The wheels whirl, sometimes insufferably, but there is no forward movement. In ‘Trailer Park Ghost’ even the astonishing finger work fails to cover up for the paucity of musical imagination. The same lack of direction is apparent in ‘Goodbye Story Teller’ and Radiohead’s ‘Exit Music(For a Film)’. A pounding ostinato bass, however forceful, is no substitute for melodic and harmonic invention. There are times here when one wishes that Larry Grenadier and Jeff Ballard would step in and enable his left hand to take a break. The proceedings end with a rousing version of Bobby Timmons’ war horse ‘Dat Dere’, where he gets back to basics, giving some ingenious and witty twists to a familiar classic. The piano is a magnificent instrument, the engineering impeccable the sound superb: five stars for the recording. The album is a huge relief after ‘Highway Rider’ and leaves one anxiously awaiting the new trio offering.

BM wins again

Great follow up to highway rider!!


Born: August 23, 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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Live In Marciac, Brad Mehldau
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  • $14.99
  • Genres: Jazz, Music, Avant-Garde Jazz
  • Released: Feb 02, 2011

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