Brad Mehldau: Contemporary Album of the Month

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Friday March 02, 2018

From The Guardian (US)

Contemporary album of the month – Brad Mehldau: After Bach
By: John Lewis

It comes as no surprise to see Mehldau recording an entire album inspired by Bach.

Instead of riffing on Bach themes, as the likes of Jacques Loussier or the Modern Jazz Quartet have done in the past, After Bach sees Mehldau using Bach’s methodology. Mehldau plays five of Bach’s canonic 48 Preludes and Fugues, each followed by his own modern 21st-century response. For instance, after a straight performance of the Prelude No 3 in C-sharp major, Mehldau responds by resetting Bach’s original riff in a jerky 5/4 rhythm and taking it into a harmonically adventurous labyrinth. Similarly, a romantic, rubato-heavy reading of the F minor Prelude and Fugue is followed by a dreamlike meditation on some of the themes hinted at in Bach’s original. The effect is as if someone has taken pages from The Well-Tempered Clavier, turned them upside down and reflected them in a wobbly fairground mirror.

By the two closing tracks, Ostinato and Prayer for Healing, Mehldau is wearing his chops lightly and starting to tug at the heartstrings.

Read the rest here