WBGO Blog
  • Back to Back Brad Mehldau in Montreal

    June 29, 2008. Posted by Becca Pulliam.

    Add new comment | Filed under: FIJM, Jazz Alive

    Four hours of Brad Mehldau here on June 28, 2008, were magnificent! first with Larry Grenadier on bass and Jeff Ballard on drums, the other at two pianos with Hank Jones. A great trio stretch was "Samba e Amor" by Chico Buarque with a beautiful left hand piano solo, an untitled new piece, "We See" by Monk, and "Baby Plays Around" by Elvis Costello, an anthem of regret. All music, almost no talk, applause between pieces seemed never to end. There were two encores. That concert began at 6 and went past 8. Ninety minutes later, Brad came back with Hank Jones.

    The pianists were born about fifty years apart. As a high school student, Brad had seen Hank at Bradley's club in New York, and been inspired. Tonight, they played together for the first time. After three pieces they switched pianos (Their benches went with them, in a clever piece of stagecraft). Even on the other's piano, they sounded like themselves -- Hank a little warmer, Brad a little brighter -- on "Anthropology," "There Is No Greater Love," "Lullaby of Birdland" and "The Very Thought of You."

    I love Hank's underpinnings, like his two-handed paddle, and his concentration. By the way, he's turning 90 later this summer. Brad drums on notes, fast and precise. His hands mirror one another, effortlessly. Though he can throw an elbow (Jones is back straight, arms at sides), they were both as economical as dancers, and partnering each other tonight. I hope this concert was recorded.

    Click here for Monk's "Work" performed by the Brad Mehldau Trio.

    The Montreal audience and the staging are essentials in this package. Don't have a photo yet, working on a little audio sample, and in the meantime, here's something from the farmers' market that Amy & I went to yesterday. Think of New York's new venue, Le Poisson Rouge.
    Le Poisson Rouge

    Becca

  • Charles Lloyd @ JVC Jazz

    June 29, 2008. Posted by Joshua Jackson.

    Charles Lloyd and Reuben Rogers

    On the final evening of the JVC-New York Festival, I sauntered down to the
    Charles Lloyd Quartet performance at The Society for Ethical Culture. This
    seems like the perfect place to see Lloyd perform, on principle alone. His
    unabashed jazz ethos and spiritual bent create an immediate and humane
    environment. The hall acoustics, however, are a total non-starter for the
    sound of live jazz.  A massive wash of drums and indistinct piano notes.
    The opening act was our nation's poet laureate, Charles Simic.
    Charles Simic

    "Club Midnight" is some pretty powerful verse:
    Are you the sole owner of a seedy night club?
    Are you its sole customer, sole bartender,
    Sole waiter prowling around the empty tables?
    Do you put on wee-hour girlie shows
    With dead stars of black and white films?
    Is your office upstairs over the neon lights,
    Or down deep in the dank rat cellar?
    Are bearded Russian thinkers your silent partners?
    Do you have a doorman by the name of Dostoyevsky?
    Is Fu Manchu coming tonight? Is Miss Emily Dickinson?
    Do you happen to have an immortal soul?
    Do you have a sneaky suspicion that you have none?...
    Eric Harland

    The quartet started behind Simic, and proceeded to play with the musicality
    that jazz fans have come to expect from Lloyd's ensembles. Jason Moran is
    the pianist, Reuben Rogers the bassist, and Eric Harland the drummer. Their
    trip through Lloyd classics like "Requiem" and "Monk's Dance" were well
    received, as was the newer material from the quartet's recent release, Rabo
    de Nube
    .  I had to really work hard to hear the music, but the payoff was
    rewarding nonetheless.
    -Josh

  • Bourne in Montreal - Part Two

    June 28, 2008. Posted by Michael Bourne.

    Smoked Meat

    Schwartz's for lunch with my Other Half, Michele, and my BFF, Amy. Montreal smoked meat is like pastrami, and it's best at Schwartz's, an old Jewish deli with large chunks of the meat in the window. Crowds wait in line all day to eat at the little tables. When you order a sandwich, you're asked "lean, medium, or fat?" I opt for medium, comes on rye with mustard and a giant pickle. I walked back down St Laurent and the Hill, the walk a payback to my body for ingesting so much meat ...
    Eating, walking around, hanging with some of my favorite people in the world, especially all the loveable kids in the press room, is why I come every year. And the music ...
    M. le Juge was back judging at 6 a sextet called The Odd Lot, playing free funk with a ferocious tenor player. I also heard a piano trio called Indigone Trio. Even though they were all reading charts, the interplay sounded (and felt) spontaneous, especially in the rhythmic effects of the drummer. Both of these groups I felt are in the running for the prizes, but I have 7 more groups yet to judge.
    Brad Mehldau played a solo recital in the Jesus Room (salle de Gesu), mostly standards ("No Moon at All," "Secret Love," "Airegin," "God Only Knows") with flabbergasting chops. I appreciated how he de-constructed melodies, but every song turned into a display of rambling and rumbling, virtuosic but exhausting.
    1st trip to Pizzadelic: chevre et noix (goat cheese, walnuts, black olives, tomatoes, mozzarella) and siciliana (various Italian meat) ...

    Michael B