Lately, I have been absolutely mesmerized by one particular artist: Brad Mehldau. Brad is a younger guy - born in 1970, and he is one of the best jazz pianists on the scene today. His style is nothing like I have heard before - he is definitely influenced by the greats of bebop, but from what I can hear, his influences range from standard jazz to fusion and free jazz, to hard bop, and even outside jazz proper to progressive rock, electronica, modern "classical" music, and just about everything else. To give an example, on his CD "Largo", he has a bunch of self-composed tracks which are fantastic, but he also covers Radiohead's "Paranoid Android", and the Lennon/McCartney tune "Dear Prudence".
I have two CDs of his that I want to write about today - the first being "Largo". This CD has gotten a lot of play in my car recently, and even Aaron was impressed enough with it to blog about it. I think that my favourite track is "Dusty McNugget", with its extremely laid-back feel, with a touch of funk. "Paranoid Android" is awesome as well, as is "Dear Prudence", which is a close second for best track. The last track, "I Do", is very reminiscent of some Billy Childs stuff I heard recently, and this track is just Mehldau and his piano. I can detect a touch of Gil Evans in the arranging done for this CD as well - very, very innovative, with some extremely interesting sounds and harmonies. This is a great CD for chilling out to.
The second CD is Metheny/Mehldau. This is a duet CD between the legendary jazz fusion guitarist Pat Metheny and Brad Mehldau. Save for two tracks, this CD is just Metheny and Mehldau. These two play together like nothing else I have ever heard - what goes on in this CD is pure, unadulterated magic. The tracks I currently like best are "Unrequited", "Ring of Life", "Say the Brother's Name", and my favourite, "Make Peace". I can't even describe how good this CD is - it's probably best labelled as fusion, but is very accessible to people who aren't intimately familiar with the inner workings of jazz genres. This is also great chill-out music, and chances are that even if you aren't a jazz fan, but appreciate good music, you will enjoy this CD.
So there you have it. Buy both of these CDs - you won't regret it. Here's a link to some of Mehldau's music on the Web.
And, just for fun, a YouTube of Mehldau!