Guitarist Lenny Breau's short life (1941-1984) is a movie waiting to be made. Before his still unsolved murder, he was able to bring a new voice to the guitar by adapting country fingerpicking technique to the intricacies of modern jazz. A Breau hallmark was his highly developed ability to play bass, chords and single notes concurrently - in effect having a trio in his right hand. The newly re-released Complete Living Room Tapes, with clarinetist Brad Terry, is a 2-CD close look at Breau in peak form, circa 1979. It contains four new bonus tracks and presents a comprehensive picture of his influences and virtuosity.
Alarm Will Sound's recording of Steve Reich's monumental orchestral/choral works The Desert Music and Tehillim, released on the Cantaloupe label in 2002, greatly benefits from the group's close connections with the composer: the ensemble's conductor, Alan Pierson, and several of the performers studied at the Eastman School with Brad Lubman, a conductor frequently enlisted by Reich. Also, Pierson's arrangements, which reconcile the chamber and orchestral versions that exist for both works, were prepared in close consultation with the composer; thus, this may well be the definitive recording of these pieces. Brilliantly sonorous in their climaxes – the burst of light near the end of Desert Music, the "Alleluias" that close Tehillim – the players also articulate Reich's intricate canonic textures with nimble precision. Voices and strings are always an Achilles heel within Reich's percussive textures (leading him to eliminate part doublings in favor of giving each line to a lone, amplified performer), but here the singers and strings maintain an impressive rhythmic vitality.
Brad Mehldau's latest solo recording, the two-CD/single-DVD Live in Marciac begins with two tracks that contrast his astonishing technical facility and his considerable inventive gift for empathic interpretation. The opening "Storm" is an original four-minute exercise in furious counterpoint, expansive layered harmony, and swinging ostinato; it's followed by a complex yet utterly inventive lyrical reading of Cole Porter's "It's All Right with Me" that not only underscores the lyric in its full harmonic voice, but expands upon it with low- and middle-register arpegiattic studies from Bach and Brahms without losing site of the tune. These are but two of the many surprises on this recorded in 2006.
The Highway Rider is pianist and composer Brad Mehldau's second collaboration with enigmatic pop producer Jon Brion. The first was 2002's ambitious but tentative Largo. As a collaboration, The Highway Rider is much more confident by contrast. Mehldau’s most ambitious work to date, its 15 compositions are spread over two discs and 100 minutes. ~ AllMusic