Saturday, 4 September 2010

Highway Rider

by Brad Mehldau

As it was mentioned before, I can give a miss to “jazz with strings”. The same goes to jazz with a symphony orchestra, etc. For the last time: there is absolutely no need to bring in dozens of classical musicians, unless one wants to get rid of the improvisation altogether.

Also, every now and then I come across the exceptions to the above. Such as Brad Mehldau’s latest offering. Now the album title sounds like that of a Western movie. Ditto the names of songs, with The Falcon Will Fly Again, Now You Must Climb Alone and We’ll Cross the River Together being patently ridiculous. One almost expects to read “The music from the original soundtrack” on the sleeve. But don’t let this put you off. Most importantly, the music itself sounds like the soundtrack to some yet-to-be-made film. (Not a Western, which is a relief.) And a pretty damn good soundtrack. The chamber orchestra conducted by Dan Coleman is rather reserved, almost minimalistic, leaving plenty of space for the Brad Mehldau Trio, featuring Larry Grenadier and Jeff Ballard, and the guest musicians Joshua Redman and Matt Chamberlain.

Undeniably a concept album, Highway Rider has to be enjoyed in its entirety. All two CDs in a row, that is. But if I had to choose one track, it would be Capriccio.

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