Marian McPartland / Brad Mehldau - Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz: Brad Mehldau

Jazz Alliance

Re-release date March 6th 2007

Marian McPartland / Brad Mehldau cover

Back in 1996 Brad Mehldau was one of the rising new generation of jazz pianists and just coming to serious attention. He had made a big impact with his contribution to the 1994 Joshua Redman album "Moodswing" and had toured with the band, key members of whom (Christian McBride, Brian Blade) had featured on Brad Mehldau's 1995 Warnerdebut "Introducing Brad Mehldau".

Here he sits and talks with Marian McPartland, UK born jazz pianist who had married cornetist Jimmy McPartland in 1945 and moved with him to the States. Now 75 and in robust form, the encounter with 26 year old Brad Mehldau is anything but lacking in interest and perspective. He talks about his influences, the early training in classical music, the interest in rock, the "conversion" to jazz in the music of Pat Metheny and Weather Report, and the key direction arrived at on hearing Oscar Peterson and in particular what was to be learned about playing left hand that is more than "a claw" blocking out chords.

And between the conversations he plays three illuminating solo pieces ("From This Moment On", "Ron's Place" and "When I Fall In Love"). Marian McPartland herself plays two pieces ("I Get Along Without You Very Well" and "I See Your Face Before Me") and they share three duets ("Stella By Starlight","Our Love Is Here To Stay" and an improvised Ab blues "No Particular Blues"). The playing is exemplary; the understanding of the music from two gifted performers is impressive.

If this all sounds dry, it is not. In just under an hour we arrive at a very well crafted and enjoyable portrait of Brad Mehldau and are left in no doubt that he will be a towering talent of the future (and course we now know that is exactly what has happened).

The current interest in Brad Mehldau, especially following his collaborations with Pat Metheny, brings this 1996 encounter to wide attention. In fact, this opens a window on a vast and perhaps undervalued treasure: Marian McPartland has been interviewing notable jazz performers in this way in a weekly radio show on National Public Radio (NPR) since June 4th 1978, interviewing over 500 jazz performers, the up and coming and jazz greats such as Jay McShann, Bill Evans, Dizzy Gillespie, Oscar Peterson, Andrew Hill and Keith Jarett.

In her own right she is a gifted performer, leading her own trio in an eight year residency at the Hickory House nightclub in the 'fifties and continuing to perform and record to the present day. In August 1958 she appeared in the "Great Day in Harlem" photoshoot.

The NPR radio shows are a huge resource, much of which can be accessed.

Not all of these sessions conform to the pattern of the Brad Mehldau show. For example, The Pat Metheny show contains very well recorded studio performances of "Bright Size Life", "So May It Secretly Begin", "Go Get It", "Question-Answer", "Police People" and "Turn Around" by the impressive trio of Pat Metheny, Christian McBride and Antonio Sanchez.

In addition to the streaming audio broadcasts, many of the most important sessions have been released on disc. Amazon has sessions by: Bill Evans, Oscar Peterson, Dave Brubeck, Teddy Wilson, Chick Corea, Lionel Hampton, Dizzy Gillespie, John Medeski

iTunes has sessions with: Bill Evans, Teddy Wilson, Dave Brubeck, Chick Corea, Brad Mehldau, John Medeski amongst others.

Marian McPartland

This is a very absorbing and entertaining resource featuring many of the top jazz performers of all time; all the more remarkable is that Marian McPartland, now 87, continues to make more of these fine broadcasts.

The ongoing show is syndicated to more than 200 radio stations. Select your station here. More details are at the Piano Jazz website

Amazon Brad Mehldau album slideshow:

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Marian McPartland / Brad Mehldau cover

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