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Metheny Mehldau

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The guitar and the piano are prone to occupying the same sonic space, a fact not lost on the two principals here. Guitarist Pat Metheny calls them “challenging instruments to combine”; pianist Brad Mehldau says they were “mindful of the murky pitfalls that can result from a guitar/piano instrumentation.” Still, these two individualistic players threw caution to the wind and let their own rather strong musical personalities take over. (Eight cuts stick to the duo format; the other two, “Ring of Life” and “Say the Brother’s Name,” bring in Mehldau’s regular rhythm section, bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Jeff Ballard.) As expected, each party brings compositional skill and a unique harmonic approach to the table. Tracks like “Unrequited,” “Legend” (both written by Mehldau), “Summer Day,” and “Find Me in Your Dreams” (by Metheny) have distinct chamber-music characteristics--introspective, evocative, full of atmosphere. Elsewhere, on “Ahmid-6” and “Bachelors III” for example, the music has a bit more momentum and fluency. However, Mehldau’s “Annie’s Bittersweet Cake” really showcases the full potential of this partnership; the effortlessness of the interplay and sharpness of the dialogue counterbalance the song’s inherent tension. There’s a hint of self-indulgence (not a surprise with these two) and most of the pleasures here tend to be cerebral (as opposed to visceral), but it’s always interesting to hear musicians of this magnitude interact.


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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Metheny Mehldau, Brad Mehldau
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