LIVE REVIEW: Brad Mehldau Trio at Kuumbwa Jazz Center was a lesson in jazz mastery

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Friday May 18, 2012


Review: Brad Mehldau Trio at Kuumbwa Jazz Center was a lesson in jazz mastery
By: Richard Scheinin

Brad Mehldau’s parents must have had the best record collection. Like a genre-hopping connoisseur of vintage LPs, Mehldau, 41, flowed through one choice tune after the next during his trio’s first show Wednesday in Santa Cruz: “Hey Joe” (made famous by Jimi Hendrix), “Cheryl” (a blues by Charlie Parker), “Friends” (semi-obscure Beach Boys) and “Where Do You Start?” (a depths-of-silence ballad by Johnny Mandel).

With a couple of originals by Mehldau added in, it was a transfixing hour of music at the Kuumbwa Jazz Center, because the song selection was so fine and because the playing was so governed by essentials. “Hey Joe” — not your typical opener for a jazz set — began low and slinky, grounded in Larry Grenadier’s
acoustic bass. He immediately soloed: a chain of super-articulated lines, bluesy and edited; he was composing on the spot in clean sentences.

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