"Modern Music" from Brad Mehldau, Kevin Hays, Patrick Zimmerli Brings "A High Sheen to Some Choice Material": NY Times
Modern Music, a collaboration between pianists Brad Mehldau and Kevin Hays and composer/arranger Patrick Zimmerli is out this week on Nonesuch Records. The album features pieces written by each of the three musicians as well as works by Steve Reich, Ornette Coleman, and Philip Glass, performed by the two pianists in arrangements by Zimmerli. To pick up a copy of the album, head to the Nonesuch Store, where orders include an instant download of the title track and high-quality, 320 kbps MP3s of the album starting tomorrow.
Modern Music was reviewed in the Sunday New York Times yesterday. Longtime friends Mehldau and Hays "don’t have to work to find common ground," writes Times music critic Nate Chinen, "so they focus instead on bringing a high sheen to some choice material ... What sticks out is the feverish concentration of the whole enterprise," as does the idea "that it’s all music, flowing heedlessly across the boundaries of style." Read the complete article at nytimes.com.
The Financial Times gives the album a perfect five out of five stars. "Brad Mehldau and Kevin Hays’ beguiling and richly detailed piano duet balances intimate exploration with the precision of formal composition," writes Financial Times reviewer Mike Hobart. "The two pianists swap phrases and enrich each other’s palette with the confidence of old acquaintances, but it is the overarching sense of form that adds lustre." Read the complete review at ft.com.
MusicOMH gives the album four stars.
"One of the elite of internationally acclaimed jazz musicians, Brad Mehldau is also something of a musician’s musician," writes musicOMH reviewer Daniel Paton. "He is a master of independence, not just in terms of technical facility at the piano but also in terms of the musical skill and intelligence needed to construct differentiated, contrapuntal internal parts." The new album comes in a particularly rewarding year for Mehldau fans, with his "having released a beautiful solo piano concert on CD and DVD earlier this year (the stunning Live in Marciac)."
Of Modern Music, Paton notes that a "good deal of care and talent has gone into the making of this album," which features "remarkably deft fusions of features from the jazz and classical worlds." Paton cites Coleman’s Lonely Woman as "one of the highlights of this consistently intriguing set, with a new harmonic approach to Coleman’s melody that provides a radically different context. The improvised lines from Mehldau and Hays are breathtakingly intricate."
Modern Music, the reviewer concludes, proves to be "another fascinating and technically remarkable addition to Mehldau’s body of work and it will no doubt prompt listeners to further explore Hays’ work too."
Read the complete review at musicomh.com.
On the theme of compelling collaborations, Mehldau joined label mate Chris Thile for a special duo concert at Wigmore Hall in London Friday night. The concert was a continuation of the pianist's curatorship of Wigmore Hall's Jazz Series in 2011, in which he has invited friends from across the musical spectrum to participate in a variety of duo performances exploring the limits of improvisatory and experimental contemporary composition, in addition to more conventional work in the jazz tradition.
Hobart, reviewing the concert for the Financial Times, gives the performance four stars.
The Guardian gives the concert four stars as well. Reviewer John Fordham concludes that Mehldau and Thile's "musicality and sympathy for each other's emerging ideas made it an unexpected tour de force." Read the complete concert review at guardian.co.uk.
Jazzwise magazine's Stephen Graham reports on the celebratory nature of the event. "A Bach partita for violin played on a mandolin, Elliott Smith’s ‘Tomorrow Tomorrow’ and some almost obligatory Radiohead were all grist to the mill for Brad Mehldau joined by the Punch Brothers’ Chris Thile at the Wigmore Hall on Friday," writes Graham. "Coming towards the end of Mehldau’s successful run as curator of the hall's jazz series he and Thile clinked bottles of champagne before playing an encore. Who could deny they deserved a swig?" Read the review at jazzwisemagazine.com.
Thile, who had been on a solo tour of Ireland and the UK performing songs from his recently released duo album with guitarist Michael Daves, Sleep with One Eye Open, performed the album track "Rabbit in the Log" on BBC Radio 4's Loose Ends on Saturday. Listen again online at bbc.co.uk, with Thile's performance starting about a half hour in. To pick up a copy of Sleep with One Eye Open, head to the Nonesuch Store now.