Release date: June 2006
Just as “Day Is Done” opens up Brad Mehldau’s music with the introduction of Jeff Ballard’s more direct, rock inspired drumming, “House On Hill” is a strong reminder just how potent was the trio of ten years standing with Jorge Rossy (drums) and Larry Grenadier (bass). The music for this album had been recorded in 2004 in sessions that had produced 18 tracks but had not been released because of difficulties over the failure of the Warner jazz label. Instead, and playing a safer bet at this troubled time for the label, the ten tracks devoted to covers from that session had been packaged together and released in 2004 as the album “Anything Goes”, a successful portrayal of the trio at its peak handling new standards such as Radiohead’s “Everything In Its Right Place” or Paul Simon’s “Still Crazy After All These Years”. The remaining tracks, all Brad Mehldau originals, finally get their release on the Warner subsidiary Nonesuch as “House On Hill” together with two more recent compositions.
And what a revelation the album is; the ten pieces are easily Brad Mehldau’s strongest output since the influential “Places” album. “August Ending” is a fine expressionistic piece with dissonant elements that deliver a resonant edge of tension while “House On Hill”, “Boomer” and “Backyard” have a sly angular blues feel about the left hand riffs with disparate, unsettling right hand excursions that push Brad Mehldau’s piano technique to new limits. “Bealtine”, “Wait” and “Happy Tune” are brighter, uptempo, and, though perhaps more conventional, serve a vehicles for fine trio performance. “Fear And Trembling”, “Embers” and “Waiting For Eden” complete a wonderfully inventive and challenging set. Highly recommended.
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