BBC Music Magazine
Notes on a pandemic
Brad Mehldau evokes the unease of COVID lockdown in this imaginative solo piano suite
Suite: April 2020
Brad Mehldau (piano)
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Will critics dub this the COVID era if it lasts long enough? We’re now seeing works in many artistic fields created as a response to the current situation, of which this solo piano album is one. It’s brilliantly odd, but would have been so under any circumstances. Very few jazz composers have that peculiar talent for writing successful miniatures at the best of times, but Mehldau not only succeeds with these 15 pianistic snapshots but does so in a way that is perfectly evocative of their subject matter and circumstances.
With titles like ‘uncertainty’ and ‘family harmony’, their lowercase designations reinforcing the tentative subtlety of the music, these pieces depict all the states of mind and physical situations that have taken on so much new meaning, capturing them with a series of attributes – cautious, indulgent, soothing, tense, reflective, grateful, menacing, caring, reassuring, platitudinous – that exposit their themes like perfect haiku. The recorded sound is occasionally slightly clangorous, but not enough to matter. Overall, utterly extraordinary. ★★★★★