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Highway Rider

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iTunes Review

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.

Customer Reviews


Fantastic album ... Fluid, rhythmic, melodic and endlessly inventive.

A Natural Progression

Highway Rider marks a turning point in Mehldau's career in music. Far removed from the heavy shredding of the earlier Art Of The Trio recordings, this disc shows Mehldau putting his years of classical training to use as primarily a composer, then pianist. The lush orchestral writing evokes Bartok or Copland and belies the fact that this is Mehldau's first larger scale ensemble work. His piano playing is once again at two ends of the musical spectrum; virtuosically thrashing around the keyboard and incredibly subtle at other times.

This album is the natural successor to his previous work 'Largo' while at the same time carrying on his pianistic styles as defined in 'Elegiac Cycle' and 'Trio Live'.


Born: 23 August 1970 in Jacksonville, FL

Genre: Jazz

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

One of the most acclaimed pianists of his generation, Brad Mehldau is a virtuoso performer with an ear for deeply nuanced, harmonically sophisticated acoustic jazz. While Mehldau is one of the more absorbing and thoughtful practitioners within that idiom, he is also 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 in...
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Highway Rider, Brad Mehldau
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