Listening to: Brad Mehldau Trio, Day is Done

Brad Mehldau Trio Day Is Done

A review of Brad Mehldau Trio’s Day is Done (2005)

This is a surprisingly remarkable record. I’m not sure why it’s surprising, exactly: Brad Mehldau is one of the foremost young jazz pianists working today, and I enjoy most of his work that I’ve heard. But sometimes, a record will sort of insinuate itself in your consciousness; make its way to the top of where the fingers go to click on my Zune when I’m in the mood for a piano trio. I think it’s probably a combination of the quality of the music and quality of the audio.

Both are superb here. I’m especially fond of the two Beatles songs Mehldau tackles here (“She’s Leaving Home” and “Martha My Dear”). They’re intelligent, musical, intricate and hamonically adventurous. Mehldau is know for his utilization of pop songs as jazz standards. This has been, of course, standard practice in jazz almost since the beginning (taking popular tunes and performing them in innovative ways, treating them as frameworks for improvisation). Where Keith Jarrett’s standard trio, for instance, steadfastly stays away from amalgamating any new material into its repertoire, Mehldau actively seeks it out. He’s produced, over the years, some extraordinarily fun ‘new standards,’ such as Oasis’ “Wonderwall” and Radiohead’s “Exit Music (For a Film)” and Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun” (holy cow, what a great pick for a ‘new standard’ :) On this record, other outstanding covers include “Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover” and Radiohead’s “Knives Out.”

The trio interplay is flawless, intimate and conscious, which is all the more interesting given that this was the first studio album in a new trio formation. Sound clarity and balance is flawless. Highly recommended. And for those who are on the fence about jazz or piano trios, it’s a good basis for playing “guess the song.”

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