Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Part I: My thoughts, Brad Mehldau and Carnegie Hall

The master of form. Listening to Brad at Carnegie Hall, it was quite
clear that that he has delightfully mastered form. The ability to
arrange and rearrange, construct and deconstruct, the familiar and the
unfamiliar. The integral quality that serves as a signpost to the
identity of Brad Mehldau is his relentless pursuit to understand and
master form.

No matter the genre: classical, blues, jazz, rock, funk, Brad Mehldau
has extensively(and I'm sure continues to investigate) studied the
masters in each respective genre which is evident during his piano
rectials where he often juxtaposes different idioms within the recital
and often times within a song. One example from the night at Carnegie
and found on his album, Day is Done, would be his rendition of "Martha
My Dear." It is as if Brad studied personally with Bach. The genius
and sensibility to understand the formal architecture of compositions
written over a hundred years ago by Bach and combining that with a
modern Beatles tune is sheer brillance. Another example from the night
would be when he played a very classic slow jazz tune and by using the
device of a medley went straight into performing RadioHead's "paranoid
android."

But the two key points from the examples above and many others would
be one the mere "attempt" of using an encyclopedia of personal
musical knowledge to create something that is new, fresh and modern.
The other key element, and both are needed to cement a place in the
pantheon of solo piano, would be the aspect of accessibility. If its
too eccentric and too intelligent, its virtually worthless and self
indulgent. If it is only accessible without depth, its just another
song without any lasting, transcending value. A temporary song much
like the temporary job, good for the moment but nothing to tell your
grandchildren about.

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