Brad Mehldau - Anything Goes (Warner Bros.)
This young pianist, the most important force in jazz in the post-Keith Jarrett era - not that Jarrett is in any way “over” - continues to reinvent himself, or at least to evolve. This CD is a follow-up to Largo, which was an electro-acoustic romp that borrowed equally from jazz and pop in an amalgam that even the most snobbish of jazzers could not find impure. On it, he created a very different vibe than we have become accustomed to from this most cerebral of artists. Largo could have been a train wreck in other hands. In Mehldau's it was masterful, especially in breaking down stylistic and genre barriers. But, back to Anything Goes…..
The familiar empathetic trio with bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Jorge Rossy is back in full force. The tunes are typically disarming and becoming characteristic of this band. There are some really old standards, such as the "Get Happy," the introspective joyride in 7/4 time with rollercoaster turns and twists; "Anything Goes" played in 5/4, "Smile" that will make you do just that; and even Monk’s "Skippy," reharmonized so that you might not even recognize it. There are some new standards from the more contemporary composers, such as Paul Simon and Mehldau’s favorite rock band, Radiohead.
Turning the meter signatures and harmonies inside out is not the point, really. Mehldau, classically trained, brilliant as a writer, thinker, and musician provides the most lucid expression of his intellectual breadth as he borrows and blends ideas from 19th century European art music, jazz history, and pop culture. He draws no distinction for his ideas. His ears are open to all forms as any true music lover’s should be, and he crystallizes his impressions in the most refreshing manner of any contemporary artist. Thankfully, he has lost some of the distinctive but irritating riffs that punctuated much of his earlier improvisations. Brad Mehldau is definitely "The Man" in 2004.