The Brad Mehldau trio played Duke University’s Baldwin Auditorium last night. Mehldau is coming up on twenty years since the 1995 release of Introducing Brad Mehldau, which was followed by his Art of the Trio series and a number of mind-blowing solo piano and piano trio albums, to say nothing of his work as a sideman and on a number of other projects like Largo, Highway Rider, and Mehliana. I mention this up front because after putting together this incredible catalog of work and after blowing so many minds with his staggering piano playing, it can be very difficult to listen to the Brad Mehldau trio in December 2014 with fresh ears. As the band has evolved, the spotlight has moved from Mehldau’s piano to a far broader circle to include more equal contributions from bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Jeff Ballard. This is not to say that Grenadier and Ballard haven’t been playing their asses off for years now! But the Mehldau trio’s current playing has a very equitable feel, with fewer pyrotechnics from Mehldau than the listener might be accustomed to based on those previously mentioned records. That said…
Pianist Aaron Goldberg is set to release a quite nice trio album, The Now, early next year on Sunnyside. It's one of those releases with a trio so particularly impressive but releasing at the start of the year and reaching journalists in a 4Q press cycle so there's a hazard that such a rather nice, unassuming trio piano trio might get swept under the rug. However, the combination of Goldberg on piano, Reuben Rodgers on bass, and Eric Harland on drums is a trio one should try hard not to neglect, no matter the time of year.
Pianist Tigran Hamasyan recently announced the release of his upcoming Nonesuch Music debut album, Mockroot, which will rock the world February 3. The new songs, the rambunctious "Entertain Me" and the somber ballad "The Apple Orchard in Saghmosavanq", sound just in line with the direction Tigran has been going, particularly working with Sam Minaie on bass and Arthur Hnatek on drums. If this is what we're getting with Mockroot, it's looking like there's a lot more reason to get excited for 2015. Stream the tracks after the jump.
There's a lot going on in this week's show. Brad Walker swept through Texas with his San Antonio show going quite well at Fl!ght Gallery. I take a look back at some releases from earlier in the year to remind you how great they are since I'm wrapping up analysis period of Season of Lists and shifting into blurb & code writing Rumpelstiltskin. It's a very fulfilling hour.
The Line-Up for 5 December 2014
Everyone here at The Art of Cool Project has been working diligently putting together next year's AoC Fest which will take Durham, North Carolina by storm next April 24-26. Last year's festival was a hella fun and next year's lineup keeps it all going with an ecclectic mix of jazz, R&B, and neo-soul artists. In addition to headliners legendary vibraphonist Roy Ayers, soulful vocalist Anthony Hamilton, and Grammy award winners Snarky Puppy, AoC Fest 2015 will also feature trumpeter Takuya Kuroda, keyboardist Kris Bowers, jazz/hip hop trio BADBADNOTGOOD, and many others. Check out the lineup after the jump.