Review : Brad Mehldau Trio- by Kate Williams

It is a VERY great pleasure and a privilege to welcome fine pianist,composer and bandleader Kate Williams as a reviewer to the pages of LondonJazz with a review of last Friday’s Wigmore Hall gig by Brad Mehldau’s trio.

Kate Wiliams is appearing with Karen Sharp on saxophones in the National Theatre foyer on Saturday November 7th.

Review: Brad Mehldau Trio
(Wigmore Hall, Friday October 16th 2009, by Kate Williams)

The Brad Meldhau/Larry Grenadier/Jeff Ballard trio played its Wigmore Hall concert last Friday entirely acoustically. The high quality of the sound was a joy in itself, but the absence of amplification also drew the listener in more. The only small quibble would be that Brad’s announcements, and therefore the titles of the originals, were lost to those of us at the back of the hall.

The trio played one long set of originals and standards, and opted for slow-medium tempo most of the time – just right for the room. I Cover the Waterfront was played just up on a walking ballad. Mehldau closed it off with a typically extended outro in which he improvised around the opening phrase of the tune, often floating a melody from the warm, left hand tenor register of the piano.

But what will stay in my mind above all from this gig is the drumming of Jeff Ballard . Cole Porter’s I Concentrate On You was truly inspiring: an implied double-time groove played mostly with soft mallets and hands. Ballard has everything: dynamic control, contrast of colour and feel, intense energy, groove and momentum.

An enthusiastic audience were given three encores, the last of which, No Moon At All, was a high point. Slowish, again, with occasional hints at double-time from the drums, enormous musical subtlety from the whole trio.

This was the third jazz trio I’d heard at the Wigmore Hall -a couple of years ago, I’d heard John Taylor’s and Gwilym Simcock ‘s trios in the same setting). Last Friday’s visit reaffirmed my previous thought: this is an ideal venue for a piano trio, providing far more intimacy than larger venues like the Barbican or RFH, whilst providing an acoustic in which the attentive and appreciative audience which had packed the house could hear a pin drop.

Categories: miscellaneous

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