BBC Music Magazine

Notes on a pandemic

Brad Mehldau evokes the unease of COVID lockdown in this imaginativ­e solo piano suite


Brad Mehldau

Suite: April 2020

Brad Mehldau (piano)

Nonesuch 007559 791928

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. ★★★★★

 ??  ?? Time alone: Mehldau paints a powerful portrait
Time alone: Mehldau paints a powerful portrait
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