Saturday, March 03, 2007

Brad Mehldau Trio - Deregulating Jazz

Brad Mehldau, Piano,
Larry Grenadier, Bass,
Jorge Rossy, Drums,
rec.1997. Warner Brothers

This 7-song EP was never sold, only released as a promo, and has other versions on it of tracks we already know.
This was found:
at : The Johns Hopkins News-Letter
Now on to Brad Mehldau, who must consider himself a master of melodies of all kinds. He, too, has a backing duo of bass and drums, but fronts the trio with his piano. The theoretical difference is apparent from the start. His first tune on Deregulating Jazz covers "Blackbird" from the Beatles, and playfully trots the Lennon/McCartney melody up and down, stretching and improvising on its already rich layers. His backing music, instead of cluttering the mix with frantic motion as Metheny's group tends to do, gracefully intones the song with a leisurely shuffle and a clean momentum. Throughout the record, they are supportive, yet understated. The bass follows the natural chord progression of the song, and the drums drops a beat so heavy you want to clap along.
Mehldau sounds as if he actually listens to his fellow players, and he dances around their melody, sometimes only mysteriously alluding to it. Then, when he finally pounces on the tune, you know the it as intimately as an old childhood song.
Throughout the record, he changes his style several times, giving us a sweet lullaby in "River Man," and a frantic, schizophrenic trip in "London Blues." But always, he takes the song up in his two nimble hands, spinning and stretching the melody at will. He builds tension and releases it, and builds it again. You can hear a plan inherent in even his improvisations, a structured kind of thinking that eludes Metheny.
The big surprise of the record, however, comes in the second track, a cover of "Paranoid Android," originally by art-rock kings Radiohead. The original was written on several levels, as that band is fond of, and sees divergent melodic lines - bass, guitar and vocals.
Yet Mehldau takes it all on himself, and produces a brilliant result that rivals any rock conversion into another format that I've ever heard. He plays and twists the rich levels of the song, and infuses his own comment into places where it seems that every possibility had been played out. At times, he recreates the wily falsetto vocals, others, the rough guitar work. He brings the kind of passion and beauty to the tune that Tori Amos brought to Nirvana's "Smells like Teen Spirit," and that is feat that only he could accomplish.

The original album is Deregulating Jazz, a promotional-only CD (Warner Catalog # PRO-CD-4257). In fact, the tracklisting has Paranoid Android listed as a non-album track, and it was recorded live on 12/04/97 at the Orange County Performing Arts Center."


Anonymous said...

Thanks! This is awesome
from a fellow Mehldau fan,

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