After Bach (Impulse Records)

Brad Mehldau

Released March 9, 2018

Jazzwise Top 10 Releases of 2018

YouTube:

https://music.youtube.com/watch?v=d6r-J_3UPHw&list=OLAK5uy_nQHVBQ4YmXPPNSRq3FhqvQX44-N08njvI

Spotify:

About:

Brad’s After Bach comprises the pianist/composer’s recordings of four preludes and one fugue from J.S. Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier, each followed by an “After Bach” piece written by Mehldau and inspired by its WTC mate. The album begins with Mehldau’s own “Before Bach: Benediction” and ends with his “Prayer for Healing.” Pre-orders of After Bach are available now at iTunes and nonesuch.com and include an instant download of the album track “After Bach: Rondo.”

As Mehldau’s label mate Timo Andres says in his After Bach liner note, “As a professional organist, much of Bach’s work took the form of improvisation, and during his lifetime it was the virtuosity and complexity of these improvisations for which he was most admired … Some three centuries after the fact, Brad Mehldau takes up this tradition and applies it to a frustratingly unknowable aspect of Bach’s art.”

Andres continues, “There have always been elements of Mehldau’s style that recall Bach, especially his densely-woven voicing—but he’s not striving to imitate or play dress-up. Rather, After Bach surveys their shared ground as keyboardists, improvisers, and composers, making implicit parallels explicit.”

After Bach originated in a work Mehldau first performed in 2015—commissioned by Carnegie Hall, The Royal Conservatory of Music, The National Concert Hall, and Wigmore Hall—called Three Pieces After Bach.

Track Listing:

1. Before Bach: Benediction (Brad Mehldau) 5:27

2. The Well-Tempered Clavier Book I, BWV 848: Prelude No. 3 in C# Major (Johann Sebastian Bach) 1:21

3. After Bach: Rondo (Brad Mehldau) 8:21

4. The Well-Tempered Clavier Book II, BWV 870: Prelude No. 1 in C Major 2:36

5. After Bach: Pastorale (Brad Mehldau) 3:46

6. The Well-Tempered Clavier Book I, BWV 855: Prelude No. 10 in E Minor 2:16

7. After Bach: Flux (Brad Mehldau) 5:06

8. The Well-Tempered Clavier Book I, BWV 857: Prelude and Fugue No. 12 in F Minor 6:10

9. After Bach: Dream (Brad Mehldau) 7:50

10. The Well-Tempered Clavier Book II, BWV 885: Fugue No. 16 in G Minor 3:04

11. After Bach: Ostinato (Brad Mehldau) 12:20

12. Prayer for Healing (Brad Mehldau) 11:06

Personnel:

Brad Mehldau: piano

Recorded April 18-20, 2017, at Mechanics Hall, Worcester, MA

Executive-Producer – Robert Hurwitz

Producer: Brad Mehldau

Recorded, Mixed and Mastered by Tom Lazarus

Additional Mixing by Brian Montgomery

Cover photography by Peter Marlow

Review:

“As a professional organist, much of Bach’s work took the form of improvisation, and during his lifetime it was the virtuosity and complexity of these improvisations for which he was most admired,” writes Timo Andres in his liner note. “Some three centuries after the fact, Brad Mehldau takes up this tradition and applies it to a frustratingly unknowable aspect of Bach’s art.” As we all know, however, J.S. Bach invented modern jazz – where would Bird have been without him? – and the likes of Jacques Loussier have regularly jazzed up the great German keyboard improviser’s back catalogue, to stirring and popular effect. Mehldau doesn’t take the easy route, you wouldn’t expect him to – and though some passages of ‘Before Bach: Benediction’ may have you squeezing your eyes as you try to follow his musical thoughts, you wouldn’t want him to either. Here he pairs straight recitals of four preludes and one fugue from Bach’s The Well-Tempered Clavier with compositions and improvisations inspired by them: ‘After Bachs’. Is the result jazz? The densely – and, given its title, appropriately – dreamy ‘After Bach: Dream’ probably owes more to Debussy than any later jazzy interpreter of Herr B. But who cares? After Bach probably won’t become your favourite Mehldau release, but you’ll find it hard to resist all the same. 

Robert Shore (Jazzwise)