Album Remarks & Appraisals:
Nonesuch Records releases Brad Mehldau's 10 Years Solo Live eight-LP vinyl box set October 16, 2015. The set is culled from 19 live recordings made over a decade of the pianist's European solo concerts and is divided into four thematic subsets of four sides each: Dark/Light, The Concert, Intermezzo/Rückblick, and E Minor/E Major. 10 Years Solo Live will be released digitally and on CD the following month. As Mehldau explains in his liner note for the album, "Although it totals around 300 minutes, the order of songs is not arbitrary, and I have tried to tell a story from beginning to end in the way I've sequenced it." He continues, "There is a theme and character given to each four-side set." Of the Dark/Light theme, he says, "In concerts, I find that I contrast dark and light emotional energies and highlight the way they depend on each other. Sides 1 - 4 focus on this dichotomy in pairs, beginning with the dark energy of Jeff Buckley's 'Dream Brother,' which is followed by the grace of Lennon/McCartney's 'Blackbird.'" He further says, "Although the songs on Sides 5 - 8 (The Concert) come from different concerts, on this set, I arranged them in a sequence similar to that I would perform in a single concert in 2010 - 11," he continues. "The third set could be thought of as Intermezzo and Rückblick - like in character. I'm thinking of the penultimate movement of Brahms's Third Piano Sonata with that title. Rückblick means a look backward, perhaps a reappraisal. Brahms's Intermezzo movement was a look back at what had taken place in his Sonata before moving to the final movement. Here, the listener is invited to look back to music that was recorded 10 or more years ago, in 2004 and 2005." Mehldau explains that his approach to the sequence of the fourth set "is to focus on the rub between the keys of E minor and E major. I return to the theme of dark and light from the first set, now allowing the listener to focus on how 'dark' and 'light' might manifest in tonality." Mehldau has performed around the world at a steady pace for 25 years, with his trio, with other collaborators, and as a solo pianist, building a large and loyal audience. "It is actually strange, this whole business of performance. It is a direct, intense kind of empathy with a group of total strangers that lasts around 90 minutes. And then, it's over, and everyone goes home. I go back to a hotel room and go to bed," the pianist says in his10 Years Solo Livenote. "Something happened, but what was most vital about it can't really be put in words. It is sweet, kind of bittersweet. In any case, it is not enough to say that the different audiences were important for the creation of this music. They were absolutely necessary; they were pivotal. Without those audiences, this music would not exist in the way it does."
Brad Mehldau played in a number of different ensembles, including label mate Joshua Redman's quartet, before becoming a bandleader himself in the 1990s. The Brad Mehldau Trio, which tours the world extensively, made eight acclaimed recordings for Warner Bros., including the five widely praised Art of the Trio albums with former drummer Jorge Rossy (released as a boxed set by Nonesuch in 2011). The pianist's nine years with Nonesuch have been equally productive, beginning with the solo disc Live in Tokyo and including six trio records Day is Done, House on Hill, Live, Ode, and Where Do You Start, as well as a collaboration with soprano Renée Fleming, Love Sublime; a chamber ensemble album, Highway Rider; two collaborations with label mate Pat Metheny, Metheny Mehldau and Quartet, the latter of which also includes Trio members Jeff Ballard and Larry Grenadier; a CD/DVD set of live solo performances, Live in Marciac; and collaborations with genre-crossing musicians on Modern Music, with composer/pianist Kevin Hays and composer/arranger Patrick Zimmerli. Additionally, he produced saxophonist Joshua Redman's 2013 release Walking Shadows.
Audio Mixers: Vincent Rousseau; Vincent Mahey.
Liner Note Author: Brad Mehldau.
Recording information: Auditori-Palau de Congressos, Sala de Cambra, Girona, S (03/10/2014); Le Reflet-Theatre de Vevey, Vevey, Switzerland (03/10/2014); Oper Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany (03/10/2014); Palais Des Beaux-Arts, Brussels, Belgium (03/10/2014); The Liszt Academy of Music, Budapest, Hungary (03/10/2014); Auditori-Palau de Congressos, Sala de Cambra, Girona, S (09/17/2011); Le Reflet-Theatre de Vevey, Vevey, Switzerland (09/17/2011); Oper Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany (09/17/2011); Palais Des Beaux-Arts, Brussels, Belgium (09/17/2011); The Liszt Academy of Music, Budapest, Hungary (09/17/2011); Auditori-Palau de Congressos, Sala de Cambra, Girona, S (09/18/2011); Le Reflet-Theatre de Vevey, Vevey, Switzerland (09/18/2011); Oper Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany (09/18/2011); Palais Des Beaux-Arts, Brussels, Belgium (09/18/2011); The Liszt Academy of Music, Budapest, Hungary (09/18/2011); Auditori-Palau de Congressos, Sala de Cambra, Girona, S (11/05/2013); Le Reflet-Theatre de Vevey, Vevey, Switzerland (11/05/2013); Oper Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany (11/05/2013); Palais Des Beaux-Arts, Brussels, Belgium (11/05/2013); The Liszt Academy of Music, Budapest, Hungary (11/05/2013); Auditori-Palau de Congressos, Sala de Cambra, Girona, S (11/08/2013); Le Reflet-Theatre de Vevey, Vevey, Switzerland (11/08/2013); Oper Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany (11/08/2013); Palais Des Beaux-Arts, Brussels, Belgium (11/08/2013); The Liszt Academy of Music, Budapest, Hungary (11/08/2013).
Editor: Vincent Mahey.
Photographer: Michael Wilson .
One of the most lauded jazz pianists of his generation, Brad Mehldau is a supremely gifted musician, known for his atmospheric and spare solo performances. 10 Years Solo Live presents an extensive collection of recordings handpicked by Mehldau and culled from at least 19 live concerts. These are solo shows Mehldau performed while on tour in Europe from 2004 to 2014. Clocking in at around 300 minutes and spread over four discs, these tracks are presented out of chronological order and with the intention of telling a story -- or at least taking the listener on a journey. Thankfully, whether you choose to engage this music by skipping around or listening straight through, there is much to enjoy. A true postmodernist, Mehldau's song choices run the gamut from well-worn standards ("My Favorite Things") to reworked alt-rock covers (Stone Temple Pilots' "Interstate Love Song"), classical (Brahms' "Intermezzo B flat major, Op. 76 No. 4"), and his own expansive original compositions. Also included are such Mehldau concert staples as his landmark ruminative reworking of Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" and his similarly inspired mash-up of the Verve's "Bittersweet Symphony" and the Kinks' "Waterloo Sunset." Elsewhere, we get languid, drawn-out jazz standards, such as his endlessly yearning, farsighted take on "On the Street Where You Live" and his delicately sweet, childlike interpretation of "I'm Old Fashioned." Adding to the sheer amount of music here are Mehldau's detailed liner notes in which he discusses his song choices, how he interprets a tune, and how he thinks of this material in retrospect. Mehldau is a philosopher and poet at his core, and this set finds him delving into some of his deeper inspirations, including reflections on God and musings about the contrast between light and dark, loud and soft, new and old. It's just the kind of intricate, deeply thoughtful writing one would expect from the man behind such intensely focused and beautifully crafted improvisations. ~ Matt Collar
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