Brad Mehldau: Your Mother Should Know: Brad Mehldau Plays The Beatles, Nonesuch ****

''In the cheaper seats you clap your hands. The rest of you, just rattle your jewellery'' - John Lennon The need to play the Beatles doesn't exist unless you need to play the Beatles. The Jarrett of his generation is a force of nature and changed, …

Published: 10 Feb 2023. Updated: 10 months.

''In the cheaper seats you clap your hands. The rest of you, just rattle your jewellery'' - John Lennon

The need to play the Beatles doesn't exist unless you need to play the Beatles. The Jarrett of his generation is a force of nature and changed, is still changing, jazz piano in recent decades for the better. But imagine Keith Jarrett in his heyday doing a Beatles album.

Pretty unthinkable, huh? This particular American is cut from a different cloth despite the comparison given his technical gifts and makes everything here like Brad.

Solo piano isn't at all rock and roll unless, the elephant in the room, you just wanted to hear the late Jerry Lee Lewis on his own. Happily you get the pachydermial chills and a rock and roll left hand to savour if your mind drifts towards the visceral impact of the Killer on 'I Saw Her Standing There.'

'For No One' from Revolver is beautiful full stop. The best thing among many riches here. The quieter the pianist is the bigger the impact because he knows how to do vulnerability and quietude coiled within a powerful presence. There are no shortages of jazz versions even of this slightly less celebrated classic. Even the perennially unhip wrangler of the clarinet hero to many of you cardigan wearing toe tappers out there, Ken Peplowski, did a very fine poignant one a decade ago.

A live album - the room and piano sound incredible (yes you can beyond all bluffing tell) - no wonder ffs it's the Philharmonie de Paris in September 2020. What do you do when the album's over? Listen to more Beatles rather than dive into Brad's back catalogue. Ah you see. But the dangers of living vicariously do not apply and the whole exercise prior to today's official release has grabbed more headlines already for the American than anything he has done in ages. And yet it is an ever-so-polite album. Maybe he just had to get these exquisite miniatures out of his system before his next breakthrough. Includes, no matter how gratuitously it seems but no less enjoyably, some Bowie.

MORE READING:

  • Formation, the first review of Mehldau's incredible new memoir published next month

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MultiTraction Orchestra, Reactor One, Superpang ***1/2

A six part suite from a collection of players who are leaders and individual instrumentalists of note in their own right. Nordic icon Arve Henriksen plus reedist James Allsopp, harpist Rhodri Davies, cellist Kate Ellis, bass guitarist Ruth Goller of …

Published: 9 Feb 2023. Updated: 10 months.

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A six part suite from a collection of players who are leaders and individual instrumentalists of note in their own right. Nordic icon Arve Henriksen plus reedist James Allsopp, harpist Rhodri Davies, cellist Kate Ellis, bass guitarist Ruth Goller of Let Spin renown, Go Go Penguin's Jon Scott and adventurous guitarist MultiTraction Orchestra leader Alex Roth are the personnel.

Henriksen dominates initially as lead voice and that fragile ethereal sound of his as so often lighting up something inside. On the second of the two pieces the textural side of this assemblage of Roth inspired recordings created mostly remotely and then edited comes more to the fore with Allsopp on tenor, a stark keening presence on top of the industrial sounding rhythmical blend Scott sounding as if he is banging bin lids. Davies shifts matters to a gossamer light fairyland at the beginning of the third piece and on the next track it's more the role of Ellis who calls the shots. So you can sense each piece has its own storyline, the writing is not at all sectional but it certainly is as modernistic as avant-electronica.

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The fifth section goes way down into a deep register and there is an avant fracturing here that produces a pleasing intensity and where Roth and Goller joust and upend our expectations in a blur of ensemble primal scream.

While categorising is a waste of time the sound in unity and quantity terms works - we'd love to see this line-up live. A lot of production work has gone into the recording and makes the approaches of so many differently inspired players cohere meaningfully and says much for Roth's gut instincts. Out on 7 April. Alex Roth, photo: Ada & Sobiesław Pawlikowscy