The dozen tracks on this double-disc set, produced by Mehldau, were recorded at the Village Vanguard over four evenings, from October 11 to October 15, 2006. New York Times critic Nate Chinen was there on opening night and called the set a marvel of concentration and restraint...On a brisk new original called Ruby's Rub, the trio applied a simmering heat of the sort that once propelled Miles Davis s mid-1960's rhythm section, which featured Herbie Hancock on piano and Tony Williams on drums. Mr. Mehldau soloed judiciously, leaving plenty of space between one phrase and the next. Each opening was an opportunity for Mr. Ballard, whose responses indicated a thoughtful rigor. The other new piece Buddha Realm, an anagram of Mr. Mehldau's name had a similarly investigative quality. Mr. Grenadier provided its anchor, a one-note ostinato. Confident in this mooring, Mr. Mehldau opted for a floating sensibility in his solo, along with some unforced ambidexterity.
Brad Mehldau Trio Live opens with a cover of Wonderwall, from the nineties Brit-pop band Oasis, and concludes with a rendition of John Coltrane s Countdown. In between, Mehldau and his cohorts radically and elegantly reinterpret bossa nova (Chico Buarque's O Que Sera ), Seattle grunge (Soundgarden s Black Hole Sun ) and Tin Pan Alley (the 1929 classic More Than You, featured in Barbra Streisand s Funny Lady). The trio also offers its own version of Mehldau's Secret Beach, which first appeared on Metheny /Mehldau Quartet. (That disc, released in 2007, contains tracks cut live in the studio with guitarist Pat Metheny in December 2005). The Brad Mehldau Trio launches its 2008 North American tour in late January with a six-night return to the Village Vanguard. The first leg of the tour runs through June, with a brief overseas trip in March for dates in France and Eastern Europe, including an evening at the Tchaikovsky Concert Hall in Moscow.
The original Brad Mehldau Trio, with the rhythm section of bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Jorge Rossy, played together for nearly a decade, and released two acclaimed live Art of the Trio sets for Warner Bros., recorded at Mehldau's regular haunt in Manhattan, the Village Vanguard. After Rossy retired from the combo, Mehldau introduced a new lineup, featuring drummer Jeff Ballard, on his 2005 Nonesuch disc, Day Is Done. The revamped trio s debut studio recording wound up on many critics year-end best-of lists. All About Jazz declared, There s no better scenario than having Jeff Ballard take Jorge Rossy's place in the trio s drum chair... Ballard is every bit as experienced, open, and on fire as Mehldau and bassist Larry Grenadier. Pop Matters called the album the Mehldau Trio's most aggressive and vibrant studio effort to date.