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Reviewers: Don Mather, Tony Augarde, Dick Stafford, John Eyles, Robert Gibson, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby



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PAT METHENY & BRAD MEHLDAU

Metheny Mehldau

Nonesuch 7559-79964-2

 


1. Unrequited
2. Ahmid-6
3. Summer Day
4. Ring Of Life
5. Legend
6. Find Me in Your Dreams
7. Say the Brother's Name
8. Bachelors III
9. Annie's Bittersweet Cake
10. Make Peace

Pat Metheny – Guitar
Brad Mehldau - Piano
Larry Grenadier – Bass (tracks 4, 7)
Jeff Ballard – Drums (tracks 4, 7)

As Pat Metheny says in the sleeve-notes: "Guitar and piano can be challenging instruments to combine". There is always the danger that they will overlap too closely, trying to do the same things as one another. These dangers are largely avoided in this meeting of two giants of modern jazz, although the combination of the two instruments means that Metheny often has little to do when accompanying Mehldau’s solos.

The album begins rather mournfully, with Brad Mehldau’s introspective composition Unrequited. Introspection is a quality one associates more with Brad than Pat and it starts the CD in a downbeat way. The following Ahmid-6 is more cheerful, with the two instrumentalists dancing lightly together. The third track returns to a more meditative mood but things perk up in Ring of Life with the arrival of bassist Larry Grenadier and particularly the hustling drums of Jeff Ballard. Metheny uses his guitar synthesiser on this track, adding a new sound dimension as well as extra excitement.

After this, Mehldau’s composition Legend sounds somewhat dark, a mood which is lightened by the gently lyrical Find Me in Your Dreams. Grenadier and Ballard return for Say the Brother’s Name and I must say I like the two quartet tracks and wish there were more, since they seem to give Mehldau the opportunity to let loose his more extrovert side. Metheny and Mehldau work sympathetically together but sometimes they seem to be staring at their navels rather than trying to communicate with listeners.

Pat Metheny’s jazz waltz Bachelors III and Mehldau’s Annie’s Bittersweet Cake have catchy melodies which make these tracks accessible and easier to love. In fact Metheny contributes seven of the tunes and Mehldau provides the other three. The album closes placidly with Metheny’s appropriately-titled Make Peace, which has Pat on the baritone acoustic guitar.

I have listened to this CD several times and suspect that I may still be missing some of its profundities. Yet I am deterred by a certain remoteness which affects some tracks. Perhaps Pat and Brad should have played a jazz standard to help listeners get their bearings, as the music takes a while to get into, and I am left feeling some disappointment that it has left me slightly underwhelmed.

As I’m writing this review in October 2006, I’m inclined not to believe the sleeve when it says "Recorded in December 2006"!


Tony Augarde

 



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