Brad Mehldau: The Very Thought of You


The Very Thought of You


Brad Mehldau (piano)


Brad Mehldau Trio Live (Nonesuch 376252)

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Brad Mehldau (piano), Larry Grenadier (bass), Jeff Ballard (drums).

Composed by Ray Noble


Recorded: Village Vanguard, New York, October 11-15, 2006


Rating: 96/100 (learn more)

This 13-minute version of the Ray Noble standard, recorded at the Village Vanguard in October 2006, starts out as an introspective trio ballad. For the next six minutes, Mehldau and company stay close to the original harmonies and the pianist impresses with his fresh improvised lines. But midway through the track we encounter one of those surprising shifts that have become a specialty of this artist. Bass and drums fade out, and Mehldau moves outside the framework of the song's form and familiar progression. Although Mehldau has sometimes been compared to Bill Evans, this long interlude is almost the antithesis of Evans. Instead of long, loping right hand lines above crisp comping chords, we find booming, bellowing harmonies supporting a minimum of melodic development. The nexus of energy shifts to different points in the keyboard, and the level of intensity gradually rises. The last seven minutes are not really the same song as the first six at least not from any precise musicological perspective. But there is a metaphysical linkage, a certain spirit that connects the two ends of the track. This is not just a novel approach to improvisation but a challenge to our very sense of jazz structure. You can't really compare this to jazz precedents. It sets its own.

Reviewer: Ted Gioia

If you liked this track, also check out

Brad Mehldau: River Man
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Related Links

Assessing Brad Mehldau at Mid-Career by Ted Gioia
The Dozens: Twelve Essential Brad Mehldau Performances by Ted Gioia
In Conversation with Brad Mehldau by Ted Panken

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