Another September release, and another album this year from Brad Mehldau following the return of the pianist’s trio. Redman, too, is a prolific recording artist and yet this is their first duo album together although they have recorded together in other playing situations before.
Like the Mehldau trio album this is a very mellow, middle-aged, softly, softly affair peppered with original Mehldau and Redman tunes and sprinkled with standards including the opener, above, Charlie Parker classic ‘Orinithology.’
The two friends have settled into a very comfortable space together embedded deep within the American mainstream jazz consciousness heralded by bebop and the album has a contented feel to it, fireworks there are none. But what there are are hugely intricate contrapuntal lines, the two players inventively journeying to the same place setting off in different directions, Mehldau underpinning everything by a bouncing left hand in his signature style and firing up hefty vamps setting up the improvisation ahead at ease. Redman keeps his cool and his smoky timbre at all times, that buttery sound soaked in the tradition but contemporary enough to keep him in the real world.
Neither player is particularly stretched and neither is the listener. You can just sit back like the live audiences sound as if they are doing breaking from their relaxed state for some contented applause (the album was recorded in different European concert halls in late 2011) and luxuriate in their easy rapport and the way they can find new routes through these tunes. And on that level this works just fine. SG
Redman and Mehldau play at this year’s London Jazz Festival in the Barbican on 12 November