Saturday, August 23, 2014

Brad Mehldau: the early years

Young Brad Mehldau, by John Abbott

Brad Mehldau is 44 today, which means that it's about twenty years since he first blipped in the radar, possibly, when he first recorded for a major label, Warner, as a sideman of Joshua Redman's, with whom he also toured the world that year.

Joshua Redman - ts, Brad Mehldau - p, Christian McBride - b, Brian Blade - d
San Sebastián (Spain) - July 25th, 1994

Since then, with this Art of the Trio series with Jorge Rossy and Larry Grenadier he made the classic piano trio fashionable and trendy, becoming one of the main young stars of jazz, a coop he has already flown. Even though he maintains his classic piano trio active, he's also involved in other projects that defy categorization. And more power to him for that.

With that feeble excuse of an anniversary, I give you a few snippets of his hard-core jazz days. First, from his earliest trio effort on record for Spanish label Fresh Sound of Barcelona, "Anthropology" (of which you can follow a transcription here), where he spends the first two minutes playing, amazingly, in octaves.

Brad Mehldau - p, Mario Rossy - b, Jorge Rossy - drums
At the Cova del Drac, Barcelona - October 9 or 10, 1993

This should satisfy the dues inspectors and bebop chops auditors. The rest of us mere humans will be just glad to listen to this, I hope.

For more early Mehldau, you can either check this Spotify playlist (based on this discography), or the collection of this Mehldau fan in YouTube. Regarding the trio of drummer Leon Parker with Ugonna Okegwo on bass that turns up among those YouTube videos, apart from the audio, we're fortunate to have footage of that gig at the Village Gate in New York, circa 1992, courtesy of the family of Art D'Lugoff, founder and original owner of the legendary club.

Mehldau must be about 22 here...

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