Joshua Redman & Brad Mehldau – Nearness (2016)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Time – 01:13:43 minutes | 1,42 GB | Genre: Jazz
Studio Master, Official Digital Download | Source: HDTracks | Booklet, Front Cover | © Nonesuch Records
Nonesuch Records releases saxophonist Joshua Redman and pianist Brad Mehldau’s Nearness, the longtime friends’ and collaborators’ first duo album, on September 9, 2016. Nearness, a selection of duets recorded live during their recent European tour, is available for pre-order now at iTunes and in the Nonesuch Store, where an instant download of the album track “Ornithology” is included with purchase. You can hear the track and find out where the duo will be performing together this fall below; for all the latest tour details, visit nonesuch.com/on-tour.
Brad Mehldau first came to prominence as a member Joshua Redman’s quartet in the 1990s before becoming a bandleader himself. The pair first reunited in 2010 when Redman was featured on Mehldau’s album Highway Rider. In 2013, Mehldau was featured as a performer and producer on Redman’s Walking Shadows.
“It’s like one of those friendships where you don’t see someone for a long stretch and then you fall right back where you left off,” Mehldau told the Ottawa Citizen when he and Redman performed at the city’s jazz festival in 2011. According to the Citizen’s Peter Hum, these two friends are “among the most potent and influential jazz instrumentalists of their generation, and what Mehldau calls ‘picking up’ is in fact world-class improvising before rapt audiences.”
Each artist has recorded extensively for Nonesuch, with a wide variety of collaborators. Brad Mehldau’s label debut was the 2004 solo disc Live in Tokyo and includes six records with his trio: House on Hill, Day Is Done, Brad Mehldau Trio Live, Ode, Where Do You Start, and Blues and Ballads. His collaborative records on the label include Love Sublime, Highway Rider, Metheny Mehldau, Metheny Mehldau Quartet, Modern Music, and Mehliana: Taming the Dragon. Mehldau’s additional solo albums on Nonesuch include Live in Marciac and last year’s 8-LP/4-CD 10 Years Solo Live, which the New York Times says “contains some of the most impressive pianism he has captured on record.”
Joshua Redman’s first album on Nonesuch was the Grammy-nominated Momentum, released in 2005. His other releases on the label include Back East, Compass, and Trios Live, all of which explore the trio format; MoodSwing, originally released in 1994 with Redman’s own band, including Mehldau, and re-released by Nonesuch in 2009; Walking Shadows, his first recording to include an orchestral ensemble, from 2013; and The Bad Plus Joshua Redman, his 2015 collaboration with the acclaimed trio, which the New York Times called “a knockout” and NPR called “a roaring and beautiful summit meeting.” In 2004, he was a founder of the SFJAZZ Collective, an eight-piece, multi-generational ensemble of accomplished musicians. Since 2009, Redman has been performing with a new collaborative group called James Farm, whose members also include pianist Aaron Parks, bassist Matt Penman, and drummer Eric Harland. The group has two releases on Nonesuch; their self-titled album from 2011, and City Folk, released in 2014.
Nearness finds acclaimed jazz saxophonist Joshua Redman and pianist Brad Mehldau teaming up for a set of loose yet heartfelt duo performances. Collaborators since they first began playing together in Redman’s quartet in the early ’90s, Mehldau and Redman have forged their own distinct solo careers. While they have continued to work together in various settings, the duo put a spotlight on their creative friendship with their 2011 tour. Nearness features live performances captured during the European leg of that tour, including tapings in Spain, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Germany, and Norway. These are dazzlingly collaborative performances that reveal Redman and Mehldau to be a highly intuitive and harmonically adroit team. While there are a handful of original compositions here, the pair also tackle several jazz standards, including a brisk, kinetic reading of Charlie Parker’s “Ornithology” and a laid-back if no less invigorating take on Thelonious Monk’s “In Walked Bud.” Elsewhere, they take a similarly inventive approach on several originals, including Redman’s warmly burnished “Mehlsancholy Mode” and Mehldau’s skipping, bluesy “Old West.” What makes these recordings so engaging is the way Mehldau and Redman play off each other, dancing around the melody, weaving in and out of the harmony like rambunctious birds sparring over scattered seed. It’s a conversational style that comes off as both a game of hot potato and let’s finish each other’s sentences. Sometimes, as on “Ornithology,” it almost sounds as if Redman starts a song one way and then Mehldau switches up the conversation, taking them down a wholly alternate route. Other times, as in Mehldau’s poignantly rendered “Always August,” they build a detailed musical architecture, their nuanced improvisational lines forming ascending and descending stairways, grandly domed halls, and hidden dulcet nooks. –AllMusic Review by Matt Collar
1. Ornithology 08:40
Recorded 11/12/11 at Festival Internacional de Jazz de Madrid, Teatro Fernán Gómez, Madrid, Spain
2. Always August 10:58
Recorded 11/16/11 at AllBlues Jazz Classics, Kultur Casino, Bern, Switzerland
3. In Walked Bud 09:58
Recorded 11/14/11 at North Sea Jazz, De Oosterpoort, Groningen, Netherlands
4. Mehlsancholy Mode 12:40
Recorded 11/24/11 at Alte Oper (Pro Arte Frankfurter Konzertdirektion), Frankfurt am Main, Germany
5. The Nearness of You 16:47
Recorded 11/23/11 at JazzNights (Karsten Jahnke Konzertdirektion), Tonhalle Düsseldorf, Düsseldorf, Germany
6. Old West 14:40
Recorded 7/7/11 at Kongsberg Church, Kongsberg, Norway
Joshua Redman, tenor & soprano saxophones
Brad Mehldau, piano