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Live: Brad Mehldau Trio

4.7 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

The dozen tracks on this double-disc set, produced by Mehldau, were recorded at the Village Vanguard over four evenings, from
October 11 to October 15, 2006. New York Times critic Nate Chinen was there on opening night and called the set a marvel of concentration and restraint...On a brisk new original called Ruby's Rub, the trio applied a simmering heat of the sort that once
propelled Miles Davis s mid-1960's rhythm section, which featured Herbie Hancock on piano and Tony Williams on drums. Mr. Mehldau
soloed judiciously, leaving plenty of space between one phrase and the next. Each opening was an opportunity for Mr. Ballard, whose
responses indicated a thoughtful rigor. The other new piece Buddha Realm, an anagram of Mr. Mehldau's name had a similarly
investigative quality. Mr. Grenadier provided its anchor, a one-note ostinato. Confident in this mooring, Mr. Mehldau opted for a floating
sensibility in his solo, along with some unforced ambidexterity.
Brad Mehldau Trio Live opens with a cover of Wonderwall, from the nineties Brit-pop band Oasis, and concludes with a rendition of
John Coltrane s Countdown. In between, Mehldau and his cohorts radically and elegantly reinterpret bossa nova (Chico Buarque's
O Que Sera ), Seattle grunge (Soundgarden s Black Hole Sun ) and Tin Pan Alley (the 1929 classic More Than You, featured in Barbra
Streisand s Funny Lady). The trio also offers its own version of Mehldau's Secret Beach, which first appeared on Metheny /Mehldau
Quartet. (That disc, released in 2007, contains tracks cut live in the studio with guitarist Pat Metheny in December 2005). The Brad
Mehldau Trio launches its 2008 North American tour in late January with a six-night return to the Village Vanguard. The first leg of the
tour runs through June, with a brief overseas trip in March for dates in France and Eastern Europe, including an evening at the Tchaikovsky
Concert Hall in Moscow.
The original Brad Mehldau Trio, with the rhythm section of bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Jorge Rossy, played together for nearly
a decade, and released two acclaimed live Art of the Trio sets for Warner Bros., recorded at Mehldau's regular haunt in Manhattan, the
Village Vanguard. After Rossy retired from the combo, Mehldau introduced a new lineup, featuring drummer Jeff Ballard, on his 2005
Nonesuch disc, Day Is Done. The revamped trio s debut studio recording wound up on many critics year-end best-of lists. All About Jazz
declared, There s no better scenario than having Jeff Ballard take Jorge Rossy's place in the trio s drum chair... Ballard is every bit as
experienced, open, and on fire as Mehldau and bassist Larry Grenadier. Pop Matters called the album the Mehldau Trio's most
aggressive and vibrant studio effort to date.
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (March 25, 2008)
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: Nonesuch
  • ASIN: B0013D8JCO
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #134,511 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Dayu Zhang on April 20, 2008
Format: Audio CD
The influences of the great trio of Keith Jarrett, Gary Peacock and Jack DeJohnette cast a large shadow on almost every young brilliant jazz trio striving for creativity nowadays. Yet among all, it is Brad Mehldau's trio with Larry Grenadier and Jeff Ballard that has been the most daring and startlingly stylish group.

Since my moving to New York City in 2004, I have been blessed to be able to see this trio's performance every winter at the jazz vintage of Village Vanguard. And of course, I was in the audience of the live serie which this new release, Live, was recorded. So much I appreciate that I can hear this wonderful live again on CD, I also have to admire how refreshing this music still is even after two years of the performance. This is not just because of the trio's expansive repertoire with tunes like "Wonderwall" from Oasis, "Black Hole Sun" from Soundgarden, and Radiohead and Nick Drake in their other releases; several Mehldau's own composition were also included, in addition to their re-inventive takes on classic standards of John Coltrane's and Ray Noble's.

This trio has been playing steadily with each other (sometimes with guitarist Pat Metheny as a quartet) since 2005. Beyond Ballard's vigorous and dynamic rhythms and Grenadier's astutely contrived bass line, it is still hard not to be overwhelmed by Brad Mehldau's prodigious keyboard skills and motivic imaginations. His right and left hands fill the music with rich contrapuntal singings while making seamless rhythmic and melodic transformation and integration. Together, the trio exhibits more than any of their previous live recordings, their originality and progressive ideas in richly rhythmic and contrasting textures.
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Format: Audio CD
I'm a huge Mehldau fan. I own all of his recordings as a leader and many of him as a sideman and have seen him live a few times. This is the trio's sixth live album (though the "Art of the Trio" title seems to have died with Mehldau's switch from Warner Bros. to Nonesuch). One of the real defining features of Mehldau's trio albums is that his playing consistently excellent (remarkably so!) througout. He seems to fall away from that a bit here as he tries a few new things. He does a lot of playing on the lowest notes of the piano in a few songs. To me these moments seem less spirited and a bit harder on the ear than most of Mehldau's earlier playing. Mehldau also plays a lot more ruminatively in some songs than he typically does. His playing sounds tentative in these moments, almost as if he is thinking too hard about what notes to play before he plays them. Finally, there are spots in a few songs where the band simply seems to lose its direction. There is a particularly long section of this in Mehldau's cover of "Black Hole Sun," but it occurs in other tunes as well. In a few of these moments, Mehldau seems to want to play back and forth with bassist Larry Grenadier, but the music ends up sounding more disconnected than it should. If anything, Grenadier keeps up his end of these exchanges better than Mehldau does (and his bass is mixed pretty loudly, which I enjoy). Despite those occasional negatives, there is a lot to like here. Mehldau's tune "Secret Beach" is among the best he has recorded with his trio, and the compositions written by Mehldau himself tend to be the best on the album ("Fit Cat" and "B-Flat Waltz" are also quite good).Read more ›
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Format: Audio CD
Just received this today and am now on my second listen. First, let me say I am a big Brad Mehldau fan. I have enjoyed the music he has created throughout his career, and I am fairly familiar with most of what he has done, with the exception of his solo work.

A few thoughts about his new album, Live. First off, this is a tremendous value. It's two very full CDs for the same cost as many single albums. The trio's playing on this album is fantastic. I, for one, have been very pleased with the addition of Jeff Ballard as the trio's drummer. Nothing against Jorge Rossy, but I just find Ballard to be more consistently interesting and slightly less distracting than Rossy. His solos on this album are creative and unique - especially on Black Hole Sun. Mehldau has chosen a nice set of tunes, his usual mix of originals, classics, and creative choices for covers. Falling into this last category is a very long version of Black Hole Sun. This track really covers the gamut and takes the trio into some exciting places it has never gone before. Also interesting is another version of Countdown - it's fun to hear how Mehldau has developed since his previous versions of this tune.

All in all, I'm very happy with this album. It's a lot of very good music. My quick reaction is that I enjoy this live album slightly more than their early release, Day is Done. I'll have to do further listening to decide where it ranks among Mehldau's other albums.
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Format: Audio CD
Brad Mehldau is frequently cited as one of the most gifted jazz pianists of his generation, with good reason.

To every performance, he brings an uncanny ability to mine his prodigious genius and training while leaping off into the improvisational unknown with the intense collaboration of Larry Grenadier and Jeff Ballard, the two major talents who make up the trio. It is always a real thrill to see these three musicians live; I've heard them play "She's Leaving Home" a half dozen times, and each rendition was completely different. They take you on a ride -- you just have to shut up and go there!

"Live," their latest recording, is about as close as you can get to being crammed into a dinky little table at the musty old Village Vanguard and sharing the moment as their incredible magic unfolds. Every set is like a high-wire act. They take a lot of risks, but Brad, Larry and Jeff never falter, whether they're giving you Brad's sexy "Secret Beach" and "Fit Cat" or the existential 20-minute-plus mega-version of Soundgarden's "Black Hole Sun." This exciting new release is a well-priced 2-CD set and I can't get enough of it.
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