Brad Mehldau Trio at The Neptune

2023-11-09 Hardly Raining

Acclaimed pianist and composer Brad Mehldau played the Neptune Theatre on November 9, 2023. His trio included Larry Grenadier (bass) and Jeff Ballard (drums). It was Mehldau’s first time back in Seattle since the pandemic.

Fingers flying, Mehldau showcased his trademark chromaticism, contrapuntal improvisation, and odd-meter mastery. Ballard added clever, minimalistic drum fills, and Grenadier contributed inventive lines and solos. The group showed great musical complementarity, and also seemed genuinely pleased to be performing together.

In a well-attended 75-minute set, the trio played seven tunes that included Mehldau’s original compositions and—true to his style—several jazz arrangements of rock and pop covers. Only interrupted by a couple of brief pauses to introduce groups of compositions, the performance was all about the music.

Set List
Got Me Wrong (Alice in Chains)
Solid Jackson
Gentle John
Little Village
It’s All Right with Me (Cole Porter)
Where Do You Start? (Johnny Mandel)
Still Crazy After All These Years (Paul Simon)

Particular highlights included “Little Village,” Mehldau’s lilting “extended waltz;” the Cole Porter swing classic “It’s All Right with Me;” and “Where Do You Start,” a pretty Johnny Mandel ballad that Mehldau said was “a great breakup song.” After exiting to a standing ovation, the trio returned to play a Paul Simon cover, “Still Crazy After All These Years,” which Mehldau called “music to grow old to.”

Mehldau announced that he had recently written a book, a memoir of his jazz career entitled Formation: Building a Personal Canon, Part I. Fans lined up after the show to purchase copies and request autographs. The trio continues their U.S. tour through late November.

Piano at Brad Mehldau Trio
Piano onstage at The Neptune (photo: Lisa Hagen Glynn)

Brad Mehldau Trio – Blues and Ballads (2016)