Resurgent Mehldau back on track with live CDs
IF THERE is one pianist guaranteed to fill two venues in Ireland, it is Brad Mehldau. He will play solo concerts in the Triskel Christchurch, Cork, on Tuesday night and the National Concert Hall, Dublin, on Wednesday night.
The Florida-born virtuoso has been a frequent visitor to this country, ever since the Trinity Jazz Society brought him to the Edmund Burke Hall in 1996. In his mid-20s at the time, he held everyone spellbound, playing with a unique combination of spontaneity, imagination and organisation.
Soon afterwards, a series of lyrical albums called The Art of the Trio, and a solo CD, Elegiac Cycle, helped to spread his fame around the world.
He has continued to lead trios ever since, as well as playing solo and recording with stars such as Joshua Redman, Pat Metheny and Michael Brecker. However, his live concerts over the years often found him in a mood of extreme introversion, obsessively repeating a single motif over and over. Then a change became apparent when he accompanied his wife, the Dutch singer Fleurine, in the Sugar Club, Dublin, in 2008. Coming out of his shell, he showed strong signs of rediscovering his colourful creativity. Fleurine and Mehldau have toured the world and recorded together, as a duo and with other musicians.
Mehldau's resurgence is continuing, to judge by the single track I've heard so far from Live at Marciac (Nonesuch). Goodbye Storyteller finds him playing with a lot of his old sparkle. Recorded at the famous French jazz festival in 2006, but released only this year, the two CDs and one DVD have been greeted with more enthusiasm than anything he has done for years. That looks promising for his Cork and Dublin concerts.
Meanwhile, Justin Carroll (piano), now living in New York, returns to JJ Smyth's on Friday night to lead his group Togetherness, with Graeme Blevins (tenor sax), Loren Stillman (alto sax), Simon Jermyn (electric bass) and Sean Carpio (drums).