Release date: 12th September 2006
In 2004 Brad Mehldau released a beautiful album of duets with sax player Joel Frahm on Palmeto ("Don't Explain") that staked out possibilities for new more open structures by simplifying down to the duet form. The same could be said of Pat Metheny’s duets album with Charlie Haden (“Beyond The Missouri Sky”) released in 1997. Here we are in similar territory but taking on the known problems of the difficulty of harmonising guitar and piano. These problems can be heard at their most acute in “Ahmid-6”, "Find Me In Your Dreams” or “Legend” where piano and guitar by turns sound disconnected from each other.
However, when Pat Metheny switches to acoustic guitar, as on “Summer Day” the effect is immediate and revelatory, despite the fact that Brad Mehldau appears to almost lose his way part way through his main piano solo.
Comparison is inevitable with the classic Bill Evans / Jim Hall duets album “Undercurrent” from 1963 (re-released by Blue Note in 2002) where the dynamics of the interplay between guitar and piano are almost perfectly worked out and it is noticeable how Jim Hall’s more acoustic tone complements piano. The Evans-Hall collaboration is from a different era and is essentially more conservative in conception, however. There is a real sense in which the Metheny-Mehldau collaboration could be groundbreaking.
Where “Metheny Mehldau” is really strong is in the two tracks, “Ring of Life” and “Say The Brother’s Name” in which drums (Jeff Ballard) and bass (Larry Grenadier) are added. There seems to be so much more balance and life in the music in this form. A further album based on this quartet and recorded at the same six day run of sessions and titled "Quartet" has now been released.
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