Brad Mehldau has written the soundtrack to life. Within the beautiful notes of his Steinway piano are snapshots of existence, experience, and this indescribable inspiration to do something of note or camera-worthy, as Mehldau’s tunes are almost of the epic quality that can’t be just plainly listened to. They have to be lived.
For nine tracks and nearly one hour, Mehldau’s solo piano carries with it the soul of John Coltrane, the ability to emit personality like Thelonious Monk, and the finely crafted smoothly flowing quality of the likes of classical greats Beethoven or Bach. An album that thunderously answers any question of today’s quality of jazz musicians, Elegiac Cycle not only takes the listener through a number of inexpressible emotions and flashbacks to events that never took place, but his liner notes are a work of art in themselves. An essay on the beauty of art — specifically that of the elegy — and its cyclical quality that brings about our mortality, the piano almost provides a perfectly appropriate accompaniment on this voyage.
A solo jazz album that becomes more radiant each time it’s played, Brad Mehldau can, with the stroke of his keys, send his listener to a mental infinite everywhere. As he starts his liner notes off, “One of the qualities of art that attracted me initially was its seemingly mystical ability to raise up the everyday experience of life and transfigure it, give it beauty.” In a nutshell, then, Elegiac Cycle is art. http://www.wbjazz.com
Warner Brothers Records, 75 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10019-6908