Brad Mehldau

After Bach

  • AllMusic Rating
    8
  • User Ratings (0)
  • Your Rating

AllMusic Review by

Brad Mehldau's ruminative, harmonically nuanced jazz has long demonstrated a deep classical influence. His highly regarded 1999 Elegiac Cycle found him evincing the work of composers like Brahms, Chopin, and Schumann. He went on to offer similar cycles to classical vocalists Renee Fleming and Anne Sofie von Otter. All of which is to say that, like his forebears, pianists Bill Evans, Keith Jarrett, and Paul Bley, Mehldau is as likely to draw upon a classical piece as any jazz standard, especially when he is playing his own often meditative original compositions. On 2018's After Bach, the acclaimed pianist takes that classical influence to its logical fruition, investigating composer J.S. Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier fugues. Alongside Bach's work, he offers his own "After Bach" compositions inspired by the fugues. While Mehldau is primarily known as a jazz musician, he's no slouch as a classical pianist, either. Blessed with a supple technique and emotive keyboard flow, he offers deft renditions of Bach's fugues. Here, he dances spritely through "Prelude No. 3 in C sharp major, BWV 848 (from The Well-Tempered Clavier Book I)~Prelude," and delivers a drawn-out, mournful take on "Prelude and Fugue No. 12 in F minor, BWV 587 (from The Well-Tempered Clavier Book I)." His own "After Bach" compositions are equally compelling, as he takes Bach's circular, swirling architecture and builds his own pieces, weaving in bits of jazz-informed harmonics and unexpected lyrical asides. Cuts like "Rondo" and "Flux" are buoyant and circular, splitting the difference between Vince Guaraldi and Keith Jarrett. Elsewhere, "Dream" plays like an impressionist Debussy composition as performed by Matthew Shipp. With After Bach, Mehldau has crafted a warm, endlessly listenable album that still pushes plenty of musical boundaries.

blue highlight denotes track pick