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Elegiac Cycle

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Album Review

Brad Mehldau's first solo piano album is not only his best record to date, it is one of the most searching, most inventive solo piano albums since Keith Jarrett's best solo concerts of the 1970s, and it throws virtually the whole Maybeck series into a cocked hat, too. For one thing, it is a truly unified cycle of mostly improvised reminiscences, starting from a Chopin prelude-like base on "Bard," peaking dynamically with "Trailer Park Ghost," and cycling right back to the "Bard" theme seamlessly, inevitably, at the close. It is also radically different from so many jazz solo piano records because Mehldau's primary thrust is contrapuntal, with both hands playing independent single lines, not the usual bop runs with harmonies or stacked chords. Perhaps Mehldau's playing doesn't swing here as much as one would like, but it is always intelligent, often endearingly melodic, always technically resourceful ("Memory's Tricks," for example, turns into a two-part invention), and even when he breaks off some startling change, you always sense the shape and direction of each piece. Here, he throws off the shackles of the Bill Evans model once and, hopefully, for all, employing classical models other than impressionists (Bach, Brahms, Chopin, and Schumann come to mind), and in doing so, he makes a big mark on the future of jazz solo piano. And Mehldau is not only an unusually gifted pianist, he is also an intriguing thinker; his long, rambling, wide-ranging essay in the booklet is one of the most interesting artist-penned liner notes in memory. ~ Richard S. Ginell, Rovi

Customer Reviews

Great melancholy but intelligent modern piano here!

This album brilliantly compines jazz piano, classical and impressionism together in a great modernized context. Listen to the album and you'll see what im talking about. Also, i totally disagree with the notion that this album is depressing. Thoughtful, searching and melancholy yes but melancholy does not always mean sadness or depression, sometimes it just means the melody expresses a certain mood/ or moods. Anyways, if u dont mind to break away from the usual coventional swinging jazz piano playing for an hour and listen to something different, take this album for a serious spin and let the music take you away.


The right kind of melencholy here. Makes me want to slit my wrists, but in a contiplative, artistic way. This is a great album but you shouldn't listen to it if you're depressed.


This is one of the few albums I've heard where I notice another aspect of musical genius every time I listen. Each piece is unique in its own way, with both innovative harmony and meaningful melodic lines. This is also more of a technical feat than it sounds due to the fact that Mehldau plays with a lot of counterpoint, much like Bach. I would hesitate to call this jazz, because even though it is very improvisational, Mehldau's playing shows a lot of classical influences (from composers such as Bach, Brahms, Schumann, and Chopin to name a few). I would hesitate to classify this as anything other than Brad Mehldau. If you want music with meaning and unparalleled creativity, buy this CD. If you don't like any kind of dissonance, this may be unpleasant to listen to. Personally, it is one of my all time favorites.


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...
Full Bio
Elegiac Cycle, Brad Mehldau
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  • $9.99
  • Genres: Jazz, Music
  • Released: Jun 08, 1999

Customer Ratings