Flying back to L.A. from Boston, using my Macbook to review three albums I bought on iTunes and listen to on my iPhone. I really hope Apple can keep it up without Mr. Jobs.
I have to admit that this record didn’t grab me at first. It sounded like something was missing, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. After seeing them live last week in Santa Monica, the record sounds completely different. Something clicked, and the songs sound less like sketches and more like complete works. The power of live music, I suppose.
Three certified legends and one of jazz’ most exciting contemporary masters on a live quartet date at an equally legendary venue. The band eases into the opener, a nice take on “Loverman”, with a subdued feel and good Haden solo, but as the night goes on it is Mehldau who shines brightest. His playing in a standards setting has always been more enjoyable to me than his more ambitious compositional work or his covers of pop songs, and this performance reaffirms that. Ethan Iverson pointed out in an earlier post on his blog (I think it was either the interview with Konitz or Motian) that Mehldau has a great ability to seemingly develop two separate ideas at once, one in the right hand and another in the left. You can hear some of that on the track below.
I’ve long held that the seismic shifts, brought on by ever-evolving technology, in the way we consume music should have breathed new life into the recording business. Alas, major labels (and most indie labels) have been too scared to see the opportunity in front of them, but not trumpeter Dave Douglas. He gets it, and his Greenleaf Portable Series is a brilliant example of what is possible. This particular group features Douglas, Ravi Coltrane, Vijay Iyer, Linda Oh and Marcus Gilmore. Absolutely killer performances all around. The album feels spontaneous and well thought out at the same time and could have easily come out of Blue Note in the 1950s. I think this is my favorite album of the year.