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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

Highway Genius

Mehldau presents himself here as the jazz poet king surveying an infinent landscape of sound. The first track was meant to be a nod at both the Waltons as well as Brahms. The later serves as a templete of the whole endevour as Mehldau shows that there is still something to be said about writing in a form that can best be discribed as continiuing variation. This is an album that takes you on a cross county trip around the sound world while still making the listener feel right at home. -Bz

if only

if only this topped the charts instead of teenagers who have been spoiled their entire lives by disney or whatever
its good to hear highway themed jazz

Incredible musical maturity

Mehldau's compositions and improvisations seem to be completely interchangeable at this point in his career. Some of these tracks have very little piano, or no piano solo, but it is still unmistakably Brad Mehldau (with a hint of Jon Brion). In my opinion, this album is what his career has been leading up to. Maybe not in terms of musical direction, nobody could really say what's to come, but his approach to music seems to be neatly wrapped up in the music presented here.

In addition, I find the production outstanding and very interesting. It does not sound like your typical jazz album. Sax solos panned to one side, very audible room reflections on horns, and a host of other things that really draw my ear to various voices. Nothing is ever buried in the mix--everything is treated as if it has equal importance.

Too bad for those of you expecting something different, but that's not the fault of the artist. This is a brilliant album.


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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Highway Rider, Brad Mehldau
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