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The latest trio recording from Brad Mehldau, a double-disc album called Live at the Vanguard, is the pick this week for AOTW. Man, Mehldau is just flat out awesome. He has, in my opinion, the most innovative and unique approach to the piano of anyone born after 1970, and I never get tired of it.

I am feeling a little lazy right now, so you can go here for a thorough review of the record. But I will say this: Live at the Vanguard is the 2nd recording that Mehldau has done with his new drummer, Jeff Ballard, who replaced Jorge Rossy in 2005. I like Ballard, but I don’t think he fills Rossy’s shoes very well. To be fair, he probably wasn’t trying to – a true jazz musician is always going for their own thing – but I guess I just don’t like Ballard’s approach as much as Rossy’s.

Regardless, the record is DOMINATING. For instance, the opening track is a cover of Oasis’ “Wonderwall” where Mehldau plays the melody in 4 over a polyrhythm that cycles every 12.5 beats (played by Ballard and bassist Larry Grenadier)… and it only gets better. There’s also a 23-minute version of Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun.” Just go listen to it and see for yourself.

And finally, here’s a burning solo from Mehldau recorded live back in the early 90’s when he was in Joshua Redman’s band (with Brian Blade on drums).

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