Review: Brad Mehldau tests boundaries on 'Finding Gabriel'

Get the weekly rundown
Sign up to receive THE FUN never stops!, our weekly A&E newsletter

Brad Mehldau, "Finding Gabriel" (Nonesuch)

The Bible has inspired a lot of music, none of which sounds quite like this.

Shape-shifting jazz pianist Brad Mehldau says he drew from Psalms, Ecclesiastes, Hosea, Daniel and Job as sources for the 10 tunes on "Finding Gabriel," and the result is a soundtrack for our times — in search of solace but stressed and agitated as boundaries are tested.

Guests such as Ambrose Akinmusire, Joel Frahm and Kurt Elling provide jazz seasoning, but this is music beyond category. Among the antecedents are Yanni, Moby, Enya, LCD Soundsystem, Mannheim Steamroller, The Who's "Baba O'Riley" and Burt Bacharach's music from "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid."

In lesser hands it would all be a mess, and Mehldau occasionally loses his bearings. "The Prophet Is a Fool" is the most conventional tune and the least successful, marred by dialogue about Donald Trump that's clunky, politics aside. Mehldau plays lots of synthesizer, including the bass parts, and the drums are often digital too, which will be a turnoff for some.

But the intricate arrangements of wordless vocals are fascinating, and among the singers is Mehldau, who happens to have a lovely voice. Fetching melodies abound, thanks in part to complex chords that have religious overtones, because God knows what they are.

 

READER COMMENTS

Loading comments...
Hide Comments

Stories that may interest you

Helen Hunt makes her musical theater debut in 'Working'

Helen Hunt has held a wide array of onscreen jobs in the various films and TV series that have earned her an Oscar and four Emmy Awards — including waitress (“As Good as It Gets”), PR exec (“Mad About You”) and storm chaser (“Twister”).


Anna Quindlen takes on grandmotherhood

Her newest title animates her most recent book, "Nanaville: Adventures in Grandparenting," a collection of vignettes and reflections about the arrival of her first grandchild, Arthur.


Rose Arts Festival returns to Norwich Saturday

The only bad thing about a Fun Event is when it conflicts with another Fun Event. This will not happen Saturday when Norwich hosts its outstanding Rose Arts Festival, but such things spring to mind because Rose Arts, in just a few years, has become a must-attend Fun Event on par with...


New Kids on the Block lead a jam-packed lineup at Mohegan Sun

Now, this is quite an embarrassment of late-1980s/early-1990s musical riches. The New Kids on the Block are returning to Mohegan Sun Arena for a concert on July 3 (a great pre-holiday night, right?). And that alone would be enough, because they are pretty great in concert. But...

TRENDING

PODCASTS