Blues and Ballads

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Blues and Ballads
Blues and Ballads - album cover.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedJune 3, 2016
RecordedDecember 10, 2012; May 12, 2014
GenreJazz
Length55:24
LabelNonesuch
ProducerBrad Mehldau
Brad Mehldau chronology
10 Years Solo Live
(2004–14)
Blues and Ballads
(2012–14)
Chris Thile & Brad Mehldau
(2015–16)

Blues and Ballads is a studio album by jazz pianist Brad Mehldau. It is a piano trio recording, with Larry Grenadier on bass and Jeff Ballard on drums. Mehldau received a Grammy nomination at the end of 2016 for Best Improvised Jazz Solo on the album's "I Concentrate on You".[1][2]

Background[edit]

The previous release by the trio of Brad Mehldau (piano), Larry Grenadier (bass), and Jeff Ballard (drums) was Where Do You Start, in 2012.[3]

Music and recording[edit]

All seven of the tracks are covers.[3] The album was recorded at Avatar Studios, New York City, on December 10, 2012, and May 12, 2014.[4]

Reception[edit]

At Metacritic, that assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average score of 84, based on six reviews, which indicates "universal acclaim".[5]

The Financial Times reviewer commented that "Each track is a beautifully crafted, richly detailed miniature with its own tale to tell."[6] Peter Hum of Ottawa Citizen wrote: "for those who think Mehldau’s music can be too formidable for their tastes, Blues and Ballads should be a more straightforward but still deeply satisfying delight, as it will be for his legions of devotees".[7] The Times 's Chris Pearson wrote, "Brad Mehldau is adept at bending almost any music to the will of the jazz tradition, whether it’s alternative rock or, as heard at the Wigmore Hall last December, establishment baroque. Yet this album has his most traditional song selection yet: four jazz standards, a Beatles ballad and just two contemporary songs, both of which are pretty much Tin Pan Alley pastiches."[8] Dave Gelly in his review for The Guardian stated, "deceptively sweet-sounding set which, once you cotton on to the pianist’s way of treating a few mainly well-known tunes, is absolutely absorbing. Instead of the usual jazz method of improvising on a tune over and over again, known as “playing choruses”, he plays the song with a few variations and then goes into a kind of free meditation on it."[9]

Will Layman of PopMatters added, "The repertoire here, then, creeps up on you. Mehldau and his longstanding trio (with Larry Grenadier on bass and drummer Jeff Ballard) play with a preternatural relaxation and ease throughout, often using a subtle Latin feeling. There is an incredible amount of space within the center of these performances, and those gaps and silences, those pauses between notes and beats, open up huge possibilities that the musicians fill with imagination."[10] Geno Thackara of All About Jazz stated, "The trio continually enjoys the easy back-and-forth of longtime mates without losing any spontaneity. Whether there's some complexity behind a song's structure or not, the results are always pleasing to the ear and no trouble to simply follow if you don't feel like dissecting what's going on. More seriously intense work can wait for another album (or for the listener, another hour). Forward-thinking envelope-pushers deserve a break now and then as much as anyone, and Blues and Ballads makes an enticing rainy-day listen to give their down time and ours a most beautifully cool accompaniment."[11]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
SourceRating
Metacritic84/100[5]
Review scores
SourceRating
All About Jazz4/5 stars[11]
AllMusic4/5 stars[12]
The Australian4/5 stars[13]
The Buffalo News2/4 stars[14]
Down Beat3.5/5 stars[15]
Financial Times5/5 stars[6]
The Guardian4/5 stars[9]
PopMatters8/10[10]
The Times5/5 stars[8]
Tom HullB+[16]

Track listing[edit]

  1. "Since I Fell for You" (Buddy Johnson)
  2. "I Concentrate on You" (Cole Porter)
  3. "Little Person" (Jon Brion)
  4. "Cheryl" (Charlie Parker)
  5. "These Foolish Things" (Jack Strachey)
  6. "And I Love Her" (John Lennon, Paul McCartney)
  7. "My Valentine" (McCartney)

Source:[3]

Personnel[edit]

Charts[edit]

Chart (2016) Peak
position
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Flanders)[17] 43
Belgian Albums (Ultratop Wallonia)[18] 58
French Albums (SNEP)[19] 78
Italian Albums (FIMI)[20] 64
Portuguese Albums (AFP)[21] 26
Spanish Albums (PROMUSICAE)[22] 68
Swiss Albums (Schweizer Hitparade)[23] 88
US Top Jazz Albums (Billboard)[24] 2

References[edit]

  1. ^ "59th Annual Grammy Awards – Winners & Nominees". grammy.com. Retrieved December 6, 2016.
  2. ^ "Nonesuch Artists Earn Six Grammy Award Nominations". (December 6, 2016) Nonesuch Records.
  3. ^ a b c JazzTimes (March 22, 2016) "Brad Mehldau Trio to Release 'Blues and Ballads' June 3" Archived 2016-06-02 at the Wayback Machine. JazzTimes.
  4. ^ "Blues and Ballads". bradmehldau.com. Retrieved May 9, 2016.
  5. ^ a b "Blues and Ballads by Brad Mehldau Trio". Metacritic. metacritic.com. Retrieved 30 January 2017. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  6. ^ a b Hobart, Mike (June 3, 2016) "Brad Mehldau Trio: Blues and Ballads – Review". Financial Times.
  7. ^ Peter, Hum (3 June 2016). "Brad Mehldau Trio CD reviewed". Ottawa Citizen. Retrieved 4 July 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  8. ^ a b Pearson, Chris (May 27, 2016) "Jazz: The Brad Mehldau Trio: Blues and Ballads". The Times.
  9. ^ a b Gelly, Dave (June 5, 2016) "Brad Mehldau Trio: Blues and Ballads Review – Extraordinarily Inventive". The Guardian.
  10. ^ a b LAYMAN, WILL (12 July 2016). "Brad Mehldau Trio: Blues and Ballads". PopMatters. Retrieved 4 July 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  11. ^ a b Thackara, Geno (June 2, 2016). "Brad Mehldau Trio: Blues and Ballads album review @ All About Jazz". All About Jazz. Retrieved 31 May 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  12. ^ Collar, Matt. "Brad Mehldau Trio / Brad Mehldau Blues and Ballads". AllMusic. Retrieved 4 July 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  13. ^ McBeath, John (October 1, 2016). "Reviews: Bon Iver; Billy Bragg; Nicolas Jaar; Brad Mehldau; Melbourne Ska Orchestra". The Australian. Retrieved 4 July 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  14. ^ Simon, Jeff (June 1, 2016) "Listening Post: New Piano Trio Music by Brad Mehldau and a Disc of Marian McPartland, the Composer". The Buffalo News.
  15. ^ de Barros, Paul (July 2016) "Brad Mehldau Trio – Blues and Ballads". Down Beat. p. 43.
  16. ^ "Tom Hull: Grade List: Brad Mehldau". Tom Hull. Retrieved 13 July 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  17. ^ "Ultratop.be – Brad Mehldau Trio – Blues and Ballads" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved June 10, 2016.
  18. ^ "Ultratop.be – Brad Mehldau Trio – Blues and Ballads" (in French). Hung Medien. Retrieved June 10, 2016.
  19. ^ "Lescharts.com – Brad Mehldau Trio – Blues and Ballads". Hung Medien. Retrieved June 11, 2016.
  20. ^ "Italiancharts.com – Brad Mehldau Trio – Blues and Ballads". Hung Medien. Retrieved June 10, 2016.
  21. ^ "Portuguesecharts.com – Brad Mehldau Trio – Blues and Ballads". Hung Medien. Retrieved June 17, 2016.
  22. ^ "Spanishcharts.com – Brad Mehldau Trio – Blues and Ballads". Hung Medien. Retrieved July 6, 2016.
  23. ^ "Swisscharts.com – Brad Mehldau Trio – Blues and Ballads". Hung Medien. Retrieved June 15, 2016.
  24. ^ "Brad Mehldau Chart History (Top Jazz Albums)". Billboard. Retrieved March 17, 2018.