« Belohlavek keeps NSO in Czech | Main | 21st Century Consort: Steinberg's Wit as Music »

Metheny and Mehldau at the Warner Theater

Sunday April 15, 2007

Brad Mehldau (l) and Pat Metheny

The Washington Post 4/14/07:  Guitarist Pat Metheny may have one of the most fertile imaginations in jazz. Since exploding on the scene three decades ago, he's leapt fearlessly into everything from hard bop to free jazz, testing the edges with originality and jaw-dropping virtuosity.  So when Metheny joined the equally brilliant pianist Brad Mehldau last year for a series of landmark recordings, it was instantly dubbed a "dream team" -- a collaboration to rival that of the legendary Jim Hall and Bill Evans.

And at the Warner Theatre on Thursday, the two put on a show that justified the hype. Ranging from quiet duets and delicate solos to hard-driving quartet playing (with Larry Grenadier on bass and Jeff Ballard on drums), Metheny and Mehldau displayed distinct -- even contrasting -- personalities, but also a rapport so tight it verged on telepathic. The playing was electric, the synergy undeniable.

Metheny is, above all else, a profoundly lyrical musician. There's a kind of open-hearted exuberance to his playing, and an intense fascination with sound itself. Armed with a small arsenal of guitars -- including the custom-made Pikasso (a cubist-looking thing with four necks, two sound holes and 42 strings) -- Metheny painted wildly colorful solos, from the gently-nuanced "Annie's Bittersweet Cake" to a scorched-earth rendition of "Ring of Life."

Mehldau's playing, by contrast, is darker and more introspective. If Metheny provided the luminous skin of the music, then Mehldau exposed its complex heart. He's a superb accompanist -- his imaginative chord voicings and impeccable timing provided a perfect foil for Metheny's flights of imagination, and he kept the music unfolding with quiet power. But it was in his solos that Mehldau's fierce intelligence really came through -- more evidence that he may be the most interesting jazz pianist of his generation.

Posted on Sunday, April 15, 2007 at 11:08AM by Registered CommenterStephen Brookes | CommentsPost a Comment

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

Reader Comments

There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
All HTML will be escaped. Hyperlinks will be created for URLs automatically.