Saturday, October 27, 2007

Brad Mehldau, Basel, October 26, 2007

For his second encore last night in Basel, Brad Mehldau began with some playing that sounded like "Mehldau does stride piano," his left hand managing to get into a stride rhythm while still doing what it does best: arpeggiating chords in rapid swirls of notes, rather than playing all the notes of the chord at once, as a standard stride rhythm would do. (Is there a term for that? Playing a chord "normally," so to speak, rather than with arpeggios?) Then out came the head: "Monk's Dream." And what a version followed: solo piano, first developing the bluesy stride playing, then becoming more like a ballad before moving into the swirling kaleidoscope of sound that is Mehldau's specialty.

That was one of the highlights for me. As Mehldau did not announce any of the tunes, there were only two other tunes I was sure about: Billy Joel's "New York State of Mind" (stately and elegant) and the final encore, "Mother Nature's Son," moving from beautiful highlighting of the melody to vary playful soloing. I was pretty sure I heard Radiohead's "Exit Music" in there, too.

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