Highway Rider

Highway Rider

by Brad Mehldau


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Highway Rider

Eight years ago, pianist-composer Brad Mehldau and Los Angeles-based producer Jon Brion (Dido, Kanye West, Fiona Apple, Rufus Wainwright) collaborated on the groundbreaking Largo album. They mixed Mehldau originals with radically reinterpreted versions of pieces by Radiohead, the Beatles, and Nick Drake and brought a range of new instrumentation to Mehldau's sound, including horns, strings, vibes and electronics.

Highway Rider reunites Mehldau with Brion in an even more ambitious setting, with a broader instrumental palette. This two-disc, 15-track song cycle was written, orchestrated, and arranged by Mehldau and features his long-time rhythm section of drummer Jeff Ballard and bassist Larry Grenadier, along with old friends drummer Matt Chamberlain and saxophonist Joshua Redman as well as a chamber orchestra conducted by Dan Coleman. Highway Rider reflects Mehldau's recent experience writing long-form pieces, including the Carnegie Hall-commissioned Love Songs for mezzo­­-soprano Anne Sofie von Otter.

"I knew from working with Jon on Largo that he was the guy who would find a way to put all the pieces together for this project. It was really quite a beast sonically at some points-two drummers playing at the same time, bass, sax, and piano, and then the orchestra on top of that. I wanted to record everything live whenever possible but wasn't sure if we could do it. Jon had the foresight during the recording, and then a great deal of craft during the mixing, to bring it all together and sound like it does. And we were able to avoid what the conductor Dan Coleman jokingly referred to as ‘disco strings'- that is, adding the orchestra onto the jazz group's performance after the fact."

Mehldau does leave ample space for improvisation, though, eliciting some particularly exciting performances from Redman on tenor sax as he solos with the entire orchestra behind him.

Highway Rider is often breathtaking in its sweep, contrasting the intimacy of Mehldau's contemplative solo work with large-scale, purely orchestral pieces like "Now You Must Climb Alone" and "Always Departing." There's gravitas in this work, but also subtle humor and playfulness, especially on the flamenco-accented "The Falcon Will Fly Again," which features a clapping circle and children's voices. Mehldau and Brion have a unique chemistry as artist and producer. The rigor of Mehldau's writing is matched by its musical and emotional immediacy; the atmosphere of these sessions, held in February and May of 2009 at Ocean Way studio in Los Angeles, is as exhilarating for the listener as for all the musicians evolved. As Mehldau puts it, "It's so exciting to write something and have it in your head and then hear if for the first time being played by these magnificent players. It's really an emotional experience. I'm still reeling from it." From the Label

Product Details

Release Date: 03/16/2010
Label: Nonesuch
UPC: 0075597982701
catalogNumber: 518655
Rank: 81276

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Brad Mehldau   Primary Artist,Piano,Pump Organ,Orchestral Bells
Joshua Redman   Soprano Saxophone,Tenor Saxophone
Charlie Bisharat   Violin
Jacqueline Brand   Violin
Denyse Buffum   Viola
Matt Chamberlain   Percussion,Drums
Stefanie Fife   Cello
Larry Grenadier   Bass
Roland Kato   Viola
Carole Kleister-Castillo   Viola
Edward Meares   Bass
Vladimir Polimatidi   Violin
Cecilia Tsan   Cello
Josefina Vergara   Violin
Daniel Kelley   Horn
Robert Peterson   Violin
Susan Ranney   Bass
Natalie Leggett   Violin
Timothy Landauer   Cello
Andrew Picken   Viola
Rudy Stein   Cello
Jeff Ballard   Percussion,Drums
Julian Hallmark   Violin
Dan Coleman   Conductor,Leader
Michael Valerio   Bass
Trevor Handy   Cello
Oscar Hidalgo   Bass
Caroline Campbell   Violin
Bob Becker   Viola
Allen Savedoff   Contrabassoon
Dorian Cheah   Violin
Philip Vaiman   Violin
Phillip Yao   Horn
Alyssa Park   Violin
Andrew Duckles   Viola
Gerardo Hilera   Violin
Andrew Radford   Bassoon
Martha Lippi   Cello
Michele Richards   Violin
Tereza Stanislav   Violin
Mark Adams   Horn
Armen Ksajikian   Cello
David Stone   Bass
Victoria Miskolczy   Viola
John A. Reynolds   Horn
Steven Becknell   Horn
Matthew Funes   Viola
Sarah Parkins   Violin
Timothy Eckert   Bass
Qiang "John" Wang   Viola
Fleurettes   Vocals,Guest Appearance
Brian O'Connor   Horn

Technical Credits

Charlie Bisharat   Concert Manager
Jon Brion   Producer
Robert Hurwitz   Executive Producer
Brad Mehldau   Arranger,Composer,Orchestration
Lawrence Azerrad   Graphic Design
Eric Caudieux   Pro-Tools
Richard Misrach   Cover Photo
Greg Koller   Engineer

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