Joshua Redman & Brad Mehldau – Nearness (2016)
FLAC (tracks) | Tracks: 6 | Playtime: 01:13:31 | Size: 340.6 MB
Genre: Straight-Ahead Jazz, Post-Bop, Modern Creative | Label: Nonesuch Records | Cat#: NON 555845
I tend to refrain from reviewing anything too soon, and I have listened to this only once; however, I gave it my full attention, and I knew even before it was over that I was listening to something special. Redman and Mehldau clearly bring out the best in each other; they’ve been playing together for a long time, and it shows here (although of course I realize this was recorded nearly five years ago). I especially enjoy hearing Redman in this intimate context, since with a rhythm section (especially with just bass and drums) he sometimes overplays. His tenor playing on “The Nearness of You” is exquisite, and in general it is a sublimely patient performance (clocking in at just over sixteen minutes). The tempo is achingly slow, and Mehldau’s solo introduction establishes the overall mood, from which they never waver. (The temperature subtly rises as it proceeds, but both musicians show tremendous respect for Hoagy Carmichael’s beautiful song, and Redman’s solo statement at the end is superb.) It is ballad playing at its very finest.
It is a nicely paced recording, and it is beautifully recorded (each track was recorded at a different venue, but the sound is seamless), with an equal measure of standards and original compositions. The two new original compositions are excellent (and contribute inestimably to the overall flow of the recording), and I already think of “Old West” as an old favourite of theirs.
Redman plays more tenor than soprano on this, and I would say that his soprano playing has improved over the years (but I will confess I don’t always love the sound of a soprano saxophone).
Interestingly, I have no idea whether to file this under Redman or Mehldau, because it represents a genuine collaboration. Nearness, indeed.
Coda: I will miss their gig in Urbana, Illinois on September 23rd, but I hope someone reading this will be able to attend.
01. Ornithology (Charlie Parker & Bennie Harris) 8:38
02. Always August (Brad Mehldau) 10:55
03. In Walked Bud (Thelonious Monk) 9:56
04. Mehlsancholy Mode (Joshua Redman)12:36
05. The Nearness of You (Hoagy Carmichael & Ned Washington) 16:44
06. Old West (Brad Mehldau) 14:39
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