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iTunes Review

It’s good to hear pianist Brad Mehldau return to the trio format on 2012’s Ode. It’s his first release with his trio since 2008’s Live, which included several covers, including versions of Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun” and John Coltrane’s “Countdown.” On Ode, Mehldau the composer is in the spotlight. All of album’s 11 tracks are original, never-before-released compositions, and several are tributes. Bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Jeff Ballard, who appear on Live, return here, and this group is formidable. “M.B.,” a high-energy nod to the late saxophonist Michael Brecker, opens the album. Grenadier and Ballard swing in unusual ways as Mehldau integrates blues feeling and striking harmonies. The jaunty “Twiggy” features percussion from Ballard that surprises at every turn. “Bee Blues” evokes Thelonious Monk's playful angularity, while “Kurt Vibe” (the title's a reference to guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel) cruises along in a strange, funky way. The album closes with “Days of Dilbert Delaney,” a catchy song that displays Mehldau’s pop leanings.

Customer Reviews

Back in Form

Mehldau returns to his bread and butter, but in the studio this time after a long absience. Their last studio effort was good, but obviously was inteneded to be recorded w/ his former bandmate Rossy in mind. This set sees tunes written for all three in this recording. And comes off pretty good. Ballard comes from a funk/rock background and keeps the group from falling behind. The playing is top notch as is the producing.

The liner notes where a bit of a let down. It doesn't wax philisophical or has any poetry in it. It just explains the concers that he had for writing for the three, and explains what each pieces was written in honor for, both real and imagined persons. The one draw back is that he keeps talking about how he writes his tunes. This is Mehldau's one drawback: He still hasn't figured out how to write a good one. He keeps the melody well into the middle register and it keeps getting obscured by his hamonies and the bass line. The one's that one can here are good themes, but not really a tune. I could not remember or sing any one them well after finishing the album. Still, the trio rocks, and it's still a decent effort. They amass a wider palate of colours this time around and it's good to hear how the group has changed over the years. Minor drawbacks aside, this is still very much a must buy. -Bz

Behold the Beauty

Words that come to mind while listening to this excellent new recording: Breathtaking, beautiful, inspiring, masterful, satisfying. If you are a musician and are into modern Jazz, this new album will do the trick. There are few pianists, let alone musicians on this planet who have Mehldau's gift for harmonic development and lyrical, melodic beauty. Beethoven and Chopin were masters of this. Miles Davis, Wayne Shorter, Chick Corea, Pat Metheny, Keith Jarrett, all are masters of this. Outside of Jazz, Thom Yourke does this, and so do Steve Wonder, Paul McCartney and others. It's all about finding a song within a song (within a song), and then making it all sing together. It's the ultimate musical gift an artist can have, and Mehldau and team, "sing" it pure and true on this beautiful record. Wow.

Possibly his best to date?

Mehldau is back in top form with his trio, on "Ode". Mehldau creates intricate melodic forms, specifically written for the trio, (which includes, Larry Grenadier and Jeff Ballard on bass and drums respectively). Each of the tunes is an "Ode" for a different person that Mehldau has crossed paths with. "M.B." is an intense tribute to the late Michael Brecker, where Mehldau soars over a foundation laid by Grenadier's rock solid bass line.

Ballard and Grenadier lay the perfect canvas for Mehldau to paint his beautiful melodic sceneries. Whether it be on the 6/8 groove "26", the Kurt Rosenwinkel inspired "Kurt Vibe", or the hauntingly beautiful title track; Mehldau's new effort certainly does not lack creativity.

"Ode" is definitely Brad's most personal record to date.


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 in Hartford, Connecticut, winning the Berklee College of Music's...
Full Bio
Ode, Brad Mehldau Trio
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  • $11.99
  • Genres: Jazz, Music
  • Released: Mar 09, 2012

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