Brad Mehldau – After Bach

bradSo if you didn’t know already, I’m a huge Mehldau fangirl (mehldau). In the jazz world that’s the equivalent to a fourteen-year-old bratty teenybopper saying she likes Justin Timberlake. Whoopa-dee-fucking-doo! No shit, Sherlock. But whatever, sometimes shit can be popular with good reason. If shit’s hot don’t say it’s not just cause of problems with feeling ordinary. And, as foretold across multiple disciplines and a variety of religious texts, haters gonna hate. 

First, the concept. 

Mehldau plays five Bach pieces. That’s already a great concept. Jazz pianists playing classical music is fucking great. They bring such a unique feeling (as in they have feelings) to songs everyone has heard a thousand times. Nobody can deny its sheer awesomeness. It would be like staring into the sun and saying it’s not bright (Loussier’s Bach, Caine’s Mahler, Levin’s Mozart … the list is fucking long and great). Some have tried to call this shit “jazzical” or “classijazz”, which sounds like someone from the golden age learning how to kickflip (personally, I’ve always enjoyed the word “clazz” cause I’m a goddamned nerd [shout out to coders!]) But, honestly, if you’re going to have a conversation about it, call it classical jazz, or jazz classical. Cause that’s what it fucking is. We don’t call indie rock shit like “indock” or “rodie”. Not everything has to be a fucking portmanteau. 

Apologies, I digress. This shit just gets me going. 

So, not only does Brad serve up Bach (“Brach” Fuck! Why does it work so well?) played incredibly well through the unique eye of a jazz pianist, he also has personally written/improvised pieces based upon those Bach songs sandwiched in between. At times these songs can feel distorting next to the clearness of Bach. But it’s a distortion that makes sense to me.

I love listening to Bach played well. But, if you listen straight through an album of Bach on solo piano, shit tends to get a bit much for the ear. Songs scroll by without getting heard. Usually, this is when classical music takes its place in the back of the room next to that huge book you’ll never read, my father issues, cobwebs and spiders where it’s been for the last couple decades. But think about it, classical music requires space to breathe. It was made for it. Do you think when classical music was first listened to and played the songs came one after the other like it wasn’t a big deal? Fuck no. People applauded or threw fucking tomatoes or some shit after each piece. What this album does is not only give you space to breathe but also throws you thick soundtrack music based on the fucking piece you just heard. The overall effect is the perfect fucking album you should put on if you want to listen to Bach piano. It’s a solid addition to the extensive Mehldau collection and a surprising addition to the huge fucking pile of Bach interpretations. This is one of jazz’s fucking star players playing the mono-fucking-lithic Bach and yes, it plays exactly how it sounds. 



 

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