Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 25 of 44

Thread: Brad Mehldau (jazz pianist) releases a prog album.

  1. #1
    Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    Portland, OR, USA
    Posts
    1,740

    Brad Mehldau (jazz pianist) releases a prog album.

    Yes, indeed. It'll be called Jacob’s Ladder. Apparently, it contains both originals and a number of Golden Age prog tunes, interpreted and often reworked by Mehldau and other, mostly NYC-based jazz musicians. It'll be out in about a month and a half on Nonesuch.

    Here's what Nonesuch had to say about it:

    Brad Mehldau’s album Jacob’s Ladder features new music that reflects on scripture and the search for God through music inspired by the prog rock he loved as a young adolescent – his gateway to the fusion that eventually led to his discovery of jazz. Featured musicians on the album include label mates Chris Thile and Cécile McLorin Salvant, as well as Mark Guiliana, Becca Stevens, Joel Frahm, and others.

    And here's what Brad himself said about it:

    Mehldau says the record’s concept is built around the search for God.

    “We are born close to God, and as we mature, we invariably move further and further away from Him on account of our ego. Jacob’s Ladder begins at that place closer to God with the voice of child, and then moves into the world of action,” he says. “God is always there, but in our discovery and conquest, and all the joys and sorrows they bring, we may lose sight of him. He sets a ladder before us though, like in Jacob’s dream, and we climb towards him, to find reconciliation with ourselves, to stitch up all those worldly wounds and finally heal. The record ends with my vision of heaven — once again as a child, His child, in eternal grace, in ecstasy.”

    The musician also goes on to explain the album’s musical approach.

    “The musical conduit on the record is prog,” Mehldau explains. “Prog – progressive rock – was the music of my childhood, before I discovered jazz. It matched the fantasy and science fiction books I read from C.S. Lewis, Madeleine L’Engle and others at that time, aged ten through twelve. It was my gateway to the fusion of Miles Davis, Weather Report, Mahavishnu Orchestra and other groups, which in turn was the gateway to more jazz. Jazz shared with prog a broader expressive scope and larger-scale ambitions than the rock music I had known already.

    'The prog from Rush, Gentle Giant, and Emerson, Lake and Palmer here only hints at the genre’s conceptual, compositional and emotional range. These bands and others have continued to influence newer groups that bring prog impulses into the arena of hard rock and screaming math metal, like Periphery, whose music is included here, and also inspired the screaming vocals on Herr und Knecht. I tried to avoid a direct tribute approach to all the songs, and opted in some cases for excerpts, or reworking of themes.”

    Here’s the full track listing for Jacob’s Ladder:

    1. maybe as his skies are wide
    2. Herr und Knecht
    3. (Entr’acte) Glam Perfume
    4. Cogs in Cogs, Pt. I: Dance
    5. Cogs in Cogs, Pt. II: Song
    6. Cogs in Cogs, Pt. III: Double Fugue
    7. Tom Sawyer
    8. Vou correndo te encontrar / Racecar
    9. Jacob’s Ladder, Pt. I: Liturgy
    10. Jacob’s Ladder, Pt. II: Song
    11. Jacob’s Ladder, Pt. III: Ladder
    12. Heaven:
      • I. All Once
      • II. Life Seeker
      • III. Würm
      • IV. Epilogue: It Was a Dream But I Carry It Still

    And finally, here's a video, of a tune apparently based upon a short passage from Rush's "Tom Sawyer".
    Can you hear that, or any similarity beyond the high voice? I can't, but it's certainly good music.


  2. #2
    Member Mascodagama's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    Location
    7th Circle of Brexit
    Posts
    1,860
    I'm sure Neil Peart would have got a laugh out of someone using a version of one of his songs on a concept album about the search for God.

    Have a feeling this is not going to be in my bag...
    “your ognna pay pay with my wrath of ballbat”

    Bandcamp Profile

  3. #3
    Try as I might I cannot get past Mehldau's lethargy- every composition moves at glacial pace and is so somber. I do not hold out high hope for this one.
    I'm not lazy. I just work so fast I'm always done.

  4. #4
    Member Marco's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2015
    Location
    Italy
    Posts
    288
    Killer lineup. Mark Guiliana is awesome and so is Pedro Martins and Becca Stevens.
    bassist in Papangu, a zeuhl metal band from Brazil https://papangu.bandcamp.com/album/holoceno

  5. #5
    Member Mascodagama's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    Location
    7th Circle of Brexit
    Posts
    1,860
    Quote Originally Posted by Dana5140 View Post
    Try as I might I cannot get past Mehldau's lethargy- every composition moves at glacial pace and is so somber. I do not hold out high hope for this one.
    Quick antidote from the non-lethargic Cameron Graves!

    “your ognna pay pay with my wrath of ballbat”

    Bandcamp Profile

  6. #6
    This sounds interesting. My piano teacher once told me that Mehldau is the most important jazz pianist of his generation.

    Not sure I understand the "lethargy" comments though.
    "what's better, peanut butter or g-sharp minor?"
    - Sturgeon's Lawyer, 2021

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Mascodagama View Post
    Quick antidote from the non-lethargic Cameron Graves!

    Apples and oranges.

    Cameron is good, but jazz is about more than just shredding.
    "what's better, peanut butter or g-sharp minor?"
    - Sturgeon's Lawyer, 2021

  8. #8
    Member chalkpie's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2015
    Location
    Hudson Valley, NY
    Posts
    6,888
    I'm in for a spin...dude's a fuckin monster. Insane chops and harmonic/rhythmic agility.

  9. #9
    Member Mascodagama's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    Location
    7th Circle of Brexit
    Posts
    1,860
    Quote Originally Posted by aith01 View Post
    Apples and oranges.

    Cameron is good, but jazz is about more than just shredding.
    Yeah, but I have about 1,200 jazz albums with no shredding already. Right now I'm after that jazz shred! Anyway, it was o/t for the thread so - sorry, shouldn't have posted it really.

    Re the importance of Mehldau, or otherwise, I guess it all depends on your perspective. He's for sure a brilliant player and a big deal in mainstream, "classicist" jazz, but I kinda feel viewing him as the most important pianist of his generation is of a piece with viewing e.g. Wynton Marsalis as the most important trumpeter of his generation. If you think the most interesting work is done at the margins, you're going to differ.
    “your ognna pay pay with my wrath of ballbat”

    Bandcamp Profile

  10. #10
    Member chalkpie's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2015
    Location
    Hudson Valley, NY
    Posts
    6,888
    If it isn't Krautrock, it's krap.

    "And it's only the giving
    That makes you what you are" - Ian Anderson

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Mascodagama View Post
    Yeah, but I have about 1,200 jazz albums with no shredding already. Right now I'm after that jazz shred! Anyway, it was o/t for the thread so - sorry, shouldn't have posted it really.
    Nah, don't be sorry. I was just giving you a hard time.

    I've got one of Cameron's solo albums, Planetary Prince I think it's called. Haven't given it very many spins yet, but I recall liking it. His work with Kamasi Washington is great of course.


    Quote Originally Posted by Mascodagama View Post
    Re the importance of Mehldau, or otherwise, I guess it all depends on your perspective. He's for sure a brilliant player and a big deal in mainstream, "classicist" jazz, but I kinda feel viewing him as the most important pianist of his generation is of a piece with viewing e.g. Wynton Marsalis as the most important trumpeter of his generation. If you think the most interesting work is done at the margins, you're going to differ.
    You've hit upon an interesting wrinkle. I think it's worth distinguishing the difference between "important" and "interesting", which on this subject are two separate things IMO. There's a lot of really interesting music that unfortunately doesn't make much of a splash, even though it might deserve to be more far-reaching. Music that may be arguably more interesting than what's happening in the mainstream, but for whatever reason its impact is small. To be able to make a name for oneself in mainstream jazz without being another Kenny G, is a significant thing.

    I'm not a jazz aficionado by any means, so I wouldn't know who to consider being important in the field of jazz right now. My teacher -- who is a phenomenal jazz musician, the likes of which I'll never be -- is much, much more well-versed in jazz than I am, even though he's actually a few months younger than me (we are both in our late thirties ). His favorite pianist is Keith Jarrett, but he's a big proponent of Brad Mehldau as well.
    "what's better, peanut butter or g-sharp minor?"
    - Sturgeon's Lawyer, 2021

  12. #12
    Maybe the way to frame this is not to say Mehldau is releasing a prog record, but is releasing a record where he plays prog compositions. He is essentially just playing standards, if you will.
    I'm not lazy. I just work so fast I'm always done.

  13. #13
    Member StarThrower's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2017
    Location
    Upstate NY
    Posts
    1,439
    Kenny G has never made a name for himself in mainstream jazz so playing like him is not the litmus test for attaining "success" in the field, whatever that means? The G man is pop artist.

    Vijay Iyer, Craig Taborn, Danilo Perez, James Francies, Patricia Barber have all made a career for themselves playing uncompromising music. Not to mention Matthew Shipp, Myra Melford, and others. I guess mainstream would include someone like Bill Charlap, and Diana Krall.

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by StarThrower View Post
    Kenny G has never made a name for himself in mainstream jazz so playing like him is not the litmus test for attaining "success" in the field, whatever that means? The G man is pop artist.
    People with any knowledge of jazz will know that Kenny G is not a true "mainstream jazz" musician -- but ask most people on the street, and they'll probably (as sad as it is) say he is a jazz guy. Years ago, someone asked my brother for some jazz music CDs to play at a party, and the guy she mentioned to him was Kenny G. Kenny G has attained "success" because he evidently learned early on how to market himself to a wide audience and maximize his profitability, without being a very good musician.

    I think you've misunderstood me.

    My point was that making a name for oneself (and finding success) nowadays just by virtue of being a good jazz musician (and not being a hack like Kenny G) is significant. Maybe I'm wrong for thinking that Mehldau is a mainstream jazz artist, so please correct me if that's not the case.
    "what's better, peanut butter or g-sharp minor?"
    - Sturgeon's Lawyer, 2021

  15. #15
    Member Paulrus's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    The Left Coast
    Posts
    2,008
    The sample sounds intriguing. I know of Brad M, but don't own anything with him on it yet (however I've been eyeing his collab with Pat Metheny as a near-term acquisition.) I don't have a problem with anyone channelling their religious devotion into music (Bach did plenty of it), and if the focus is on great instrumental playing and intriguing harmonic experimentation that's pretty much all I need. When it tries to proselytize (I'm looking at you, Neil Morse), that's when I back away quickly. Anyways, a mainstream jazz name doing an album like this can only be a good thing for those of us wanting to give the music we love greater credibility and exposure.
    I'm holding out for the Wilson-mixed 5.1 super-duper walletbuster special anniversary extra adjectives edition.

  16. #16
    Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    Portland, OR, USA
    Posts
    1,740
    Quote Originally Posted by Dana5140 View Post
    Maybe the way to frame this is not to say Mehldau is releasing a prog record, but is releasing a record where he plays prog compositions. He is essentially just playing standards, if you will.
    He's playing compositions by other people, by prog bands, but they're not standards - which are generally considered to be the Great American Songbook of Broadway tunes, plus a number of jazz compositions by Duke, Miles, Mingus, Monk, Bird, Diz, and others. This comes closer to an album of jazz adaptations from the classical literature, or from folk songs. And if you listen to the music in that video - which is one little transition from "Tom Sawyer", greatly expanded with an odd combination of jazz harmonic extensions and hip-hop production techniques - you'll hear that it's very far from almost any standards album. Even though he would have developed those fearsome on-the-spot reharmonization and soloing chops from decades of practicing standards.

  17. #17
    Wasn't Mehliana considered as a prog album as well?



    I discovered Mehldau when I turned on the TV one Sundaymoring hearing someone play a Nick Drake-tune on the piano.

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by aith01 View Post
    the difference between "important" and "interesting".
    Not to belabor the point, but an example I thought of is Bob Dylan. None of his work is particularly interesting to me, but I'd never argue that he wasn't one of the most important musicians of his day.
    "what's better, peanut butter or g-sharp minor?"
    - Sturgeon's Lawyer, 2021

  19. #19
    Great pianist, not sure if this project will be for me, but it reminds me that I should listen again to his Art of the Trio series.

    Incidentally, he played wearing a Grateful Dead t-shirt the one time to date I've seen him live, at Chicago Jazz Festival a few years ago.

  20. #20
    Member Digital_Man's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    Philly burbs PA
    Posts
    3,196
    I've heard of Brad from researching modern jazz artists. It should be interesting. Thanks for the heads up.
    You can't take a photograph of Uzis on a street corner.

  21. #21
    Member Mascodagama's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    Location
    7th Circle of Brexit
    Posts
    1,860
    Quote Originally Posted by aith01 View Post
    You've hit upon an interesting wrinkle. I think it's worth distinguishing the difference between "important" and "interesting", which on this subject are two separate things IMO. There's a lot of really interesting music that unfortunately doesn't make much of a splash, even though it might deserve to be more far-reaching. Music that may be arguably more interesting than what's happening in the mainstream, but for whatever reason its impact is small. To be able to make a name for oneself in mainstream jazz without being another Kenny G, is a significant thing.
    Yeah, part of the issue is I think “important” is a bit of a slippery term. Not very specific in its meaning! If we take it in the sense of “well known and influential” BM scores very high, if in the sense of “innovative and radical”, less so. Of course he is an absolutely fantastic musician - which can be said of all top echelon jazz players, really.

    I definitely wouldn’t denigrate his achievement in attaining the level of recognition and success he has whilst remaining an uncompromising jazz player. That is rare and has to be incredibly hard to do.

  22. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by Mascodagama View Post
    Yeah, part of the issue is I think “important” is a bit of a slippery term. Not very specific in its meaning!
    You're absolutely right. There are a few different ways it could be interpreted.


    Quote Originally Posted by Mascodagama View Post
    If we take it in the sense of “well known and influential” BM scores very high, if in the sense of “innovative and radical”, less so. Of course he is an absolutely fantastic musician - which can be said of all top echelon jazz players, really.
    I agree, and I think my piano teacher meant it in the terms of influence and/or reach within the field of jazz rather than innovation. We've had conversations about John Zorn before too, so he's familiar with some truly outside-the-box stuff as well (more so than me, it's safe to say).
    "what's better, peanut butter or g-sharp minor?"
    - Sturgeon's Lawyer, 2021

  23. #23
    Member proggy_jazzer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Waterloo, IA, USA
    Posts
    1,181
    Mehldau is a technically and musically gifted player, and I've really enjoyed the handful of things he's on in my collection. I had no idea he had such spiritual leanings, but it's not a problem for me. Perhaps it stems from when he had to kick heroin back in the 90s. The personnel list for this new one is stellar; I'll definitely be checking it out.
    David
    Happy with what I have to be happy with.

  24. #24
    Member StarThrower's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2017
    Location
    Upstate NY
    Posts
    1,439
    Maybe I'm wrong for thinking that Mehldau is a mainstream jazz artist, so please correct me if that's not the case.
    I'm not sure what exactly the qualifications are? Recording for a major label? Being played on jazz radio? I don't really pay attention. I suppose if one sticks with it long enough an artist builds a following and more people and media pay attention. I just put on Meldau's Largo album and this is some nice stuff!

  25. #25
    He's playing compositions by other people, by prog bands, but they're not standards - which are generally considered to be the Great American Songbook of Broadway tunes, plus a number of jazz compositions by Duke, Miles, Mingus, Monk, Bird, Diz, and others. This comes closer to an album of jazz adaptations from the classical literature, or from folk songs. And if you listen to the music in that video - which is one little transition from "Tom Sawyer", greatly expanded with an odd combination of jazz harmonic extensions and hip-hop production techniques - you'll hear that it's very far from almost any standards album. Even though he would have developed those fearsome on-the-spot reharmonization and soloing chops from decades of practicing standards.
    Barobrotzer, yeah, I was just being brief in my comment due to time. But I think people knew what I meant- he was or will be just interpreting prog songs in his own way. Which he has done before for rock songs. I hope the project comes out well but Brad is not an artist who really interests me due to the pace of his songs, which are at best deliberate.
    I'm not lazy. I just work so fast I'm always done.

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •