Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Brad Mehldau: Introverted sounds on a chilly concert

Brad Mehldau: Introverte klanken op kil abdijplein ( Nederlands) Brad Mehldau: Introverted sounds on a chilly concert ( English)

The music one plays, is never a copy of something played in the past
Hans Koert

On the 22nd of May 2010 Brad Mehldau performed in a solo concert at the 4th International Jazz Festival of Middelburg in the southwest part of The Netherlands. The festival was scheduled from the 21st up to the 24th of May, 2010.

The music one plays, is never a copy of something played in the past. And music created in the passed, never mind if it is composed by Brahms or played by musicians like Mingus, Parker or Evans is not old fashioned or what-so-ever.( Brad Mehldau)

Brad Mehldau was born in Jacksonville, Fl. August 1970 and lived as a young child in Ireland, before he was adopted and raised by a family in Connecticut. This family had a piano and as a five year old boy he sat behind the keyboard dreaming to become a concert pianist. He got piano lessons in classical music and when he grew up he became interested in popular music; music as played by Weather Report and Herbie Hancock on his Headhunters album. He started to collect records ( he had an almost complete Blue Note album collection) and became fascinated by the music the Greats of Jazz like Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Charlie Parker and Charles Mingus had created. He started to play at several gigs and became a student at the New School For Social Research in Manhattan (NY) where he followed the Jazz and Contemporary Music Program. He wasn't a very brilliant student - he preferred to play in the clubs all round New York instead of studying at the university. One of those first bands was the Jesse Davis Quintet - it was with this group he made one of his first records Young at Art ( Concord Jazz CCD-4565). Jesse Davis describes this young promising pianist on the liner notes as: He's 22 years old, and wow!

As a student he left the States for Europe for half a year and played in Ireland ( with Louis Stewart) and Spain, where he met the Rossy brothers ( Jorge Rossy would become his regular drummer). Before he founded his own trio he played with Joshua Redman and is to be heard on one of Joshua's most popular albums MoodSwing. (Warner Bros WB 9362-45643). In 1995, after Joshua had broken with Brad, Mehldau recorded his first own records, first for the Fresh Sound label ( with Perico Sambeat), followed by a numerous series of trio recordings, with Larry Grenadier on bass and Jorge Rossy on drums in the series The Art of the Trio.
Brad's music is introverted and should be played in a small club or theatre with a cozy atmosphere, a good sound system and good chairs - not on a windy and chilly inner square of the Middelburg abbey with some stringent security men on both sides, facing the audience. It was strictly forbidden to take any photos and those rigid security men with earphones who had to monitor seem to have the time of their life. It gave me the feeling to be on the wrong spot at the wrong time. It became a chilly concert, in both senses of the word ...... Only his wife and kids seem to enjoy their day out ...... If you've seen and heard Brad playing the piano, it helps to create a certain image as if Brad is a clone of piano players like Lennie Tristano or Bill Evans. He gets annoyed about that .......... The constant comparison (of this trio) with (the) Bill Evans (Trio) by critics has been a thorn in my side. In the liner notes the of Brad Mehldau - Back to the Vanguard album he says that he listened a few months to Bill Evans when he was 13 or 14 years old - and never to the music of Lennie Tristano. The nonstop claims of their influence on me are not about musical content. Notions of an introverted intellectualism and cloying over emotionalism give the piano trio its otherness in this false appraisal. Brad says that it feels very frustrating to be categorized away with no explanation, when you're trying to create something personal. And I think he's right. Creating music is a process, which develops while performing ......

But what is wrong if one says that the music of Louis Armstrong was influenced by King Oliver? Does that degrade Louis creativity? Or gives it to much honours to Joe ?

Last week I played myself one of Brad's excellent Art of the Trio albums as I like to hear it - at home, with my headset on and no rigid security men on my back............ that's how like it to be served up !!

Hans Koert


Isn't it a bit weird to display the famous Rembrandt paining De Nachtwacht at the beach of Scheveningen or is it an idea that shows great daring? Or what about a private conversation in a crowded subway station? The wrong things on the wrong plays. You shouldn't schedule, i.m.o., a concert by the introverted pianist in at a chilly open-air inner court. Brad Mehldau performed on the 22nd of May, 2010 at the inner court of the Middelburg abbey as a part of the 4th International Jazz Festival of Middelburg. If you love to be informed about upcoming contributions in this Keep Swinging blog ask for its newsletter.

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Blogger Unknown said...

Brad never lived in Ireland. He was adopted but his adopters, the Mehldaus, picked him up at the Catholic hospital in Jacksonville shortly after his birth there. His real mother, who played classical piano throughout her pregnancy, was forced to put him up for adoption because neither of the possible fathers would marry her. His mother's parents gave his mother the choice of either abortion or adoption. Under Florida law at the time, she was deemed "an unfit mother" simply because she was single and pregnant. This ensured that she had no rights in the matter of adoption anyway. There is much music in Brad's real family. His mother shares his love for playing Bach, Brahms, Schubert and Schumann on the piano . His maternal grandmother played piano by ear and was a gifted soprano who worked as a singer in a jazz band before she met her husband. Brad's maternal grandfather, was the 4th child of Dutch immigrants and a Professor of Mathematics (pure algebraist). Brad has a second cousin on the Dutch side of the family who was a child prodigy violinist in Boston and is now part of a string quartet in New England. Unfortunately, Brad was raised by his adopters to believe that his real mother was "unfit". He was amazed to find out that she was a normal human being, not an alcoholic, drug addict living in a trailer park. "Trailer Park Ghost" from "Elegiac Cycle" was written when he was in Berlin, and had just met his real mother for the first time.

8:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No adopted child should be raised to believe he/she came from an unfit mother much less think it. The birth mother gave him life. The adopted parents would not have had their precious son were it not for this very young woman who made the brave decision to carry a child to term especially when the Florida Statutes took away her right to keep the child. What a horrible thing to say to a child and a horrible idea for a child to harbor. That would have contributed to the destruction of self esteem. That is a cruel foundation to lay for a child. I hope one day he uncovers the depth of love and longing his birth mother had for him…and the lonely darkness she must have carried for decades grieving her loss. All while praying he was safe.

5:30 AM  

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