Four and Haft Stars for Finding Gabriel

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Tuesday August 13, 2019


Brad Mehldau: Finding Gabriel

“The pianist’s new release, featuring 10 original compositions performed by Brad Mehldau and a host of musical guests, is full of exciting surprises. It would be easy for listeners to become too distracted by the explicit religious thread running through the CD, as a potential distraction from the powerful and often moving sounds here.

Regardless, Finding Gabriel showcases once again Mehldau’s profound musicality, brilliant in its clarity, as did his exhilarating After Bach (see my June 2018 JJ review) ‘” a testament to his breadth of vision. This record, in some ways, feels as much a devotional statement as did that masterpiece.

Mehldau explains that Finding Gabriel came after reading the Bible closely for the last several years. The prophetic writing of Daniel and Hosea resonated with him in particular, as did the wisdom literature of Job and Ecclesiastes and the devotional words in Psalms. These texts felt like a corollary and perhaps a guide to the sometimes seemingly insoluble trials and tribulations of the present day. The archangel Gabriel appeared to Daniel, telling him that he had come to tell him that he was greatly loved, to ‘consider the word and understand the vision’. Mehldau felt that the trick, musically, was to listen to Gabriel’s voice through all the noise and find a way to explain the chaos, not only to himself, but to a young person with fewer reference points ‘” perhaps one’s own children.”

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