Looking ahead to books to be issued in 2023 there is a dynamite Brad Mehldau memoir in store to be published in March that casts new light on Brad Mehldau the person and the musician in what the pianist calls his Bildung - the American's Goethe-inspired coming of age ''formation'' period.
Hugely candid Formation deals with issues of sexual abuse inflicted on him by a school principal, of drink and drug addiction, his own bisexuality at this time in his life, artistic and personal growth and the arc of a development in the artist he became.
Written in a highly literary style dotted with many quotations from philosophy and literature Mehldau provides a narrative that is both biographical and analytical and proves as lucid as it is compelling spanning literary and jazz criticism at times beyond his own story (there is very good analysis on bebop and the rites and rituals of jamming for instance) and Mehldau is like an analyst of his own psyche when the going gets really tough and he expresses his inner feelings so bravely and eloquently.
Brutally honest and at times not an easy read given the harrowing themes it explores the book is nonetheless beautifully written - not a surprise to anyone who has read any of Mehldau's sleeve notes over the years - and is also experimental in the dream-like reveries and hallucinatory passages that are a feedback loop into and around his own consciousness that might be familiar in his work beyond his Formation years on brilliant Mehliana track 'Taming the Dragon'.
We couldn't put the uncorrected proof copy of the book down at all consuming it in one reading today. Strong on the New York scene of young players just like Mehldau who emerged in the 1990s Formation paints an evocative picture of a scene in search not just of its own identity but its own validity. There are heartbreaking scenes too of young players, friends of Mehldau's, who did not make it through.
A picture ultimately emerges of the multiple complexities within Mehldau, widely adored by many as the Keith Jarrett of his generation, through the trials and tribulations he endured in his early career and still a force to be reckoned with. To be published by Equinox