For sheer expressivity and soul, no musical instrument can surpass the piano, when properly played. Whether it’s Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata,” Dave Brubeck’s “Blue Rondo à la Turk,” or even Vince Guaraldi’s immortal “Linus and Lucy,” everyone has a piano weak spot—that place in the heart where the poignant lyricism of keyboards reaches us, opens us up, and makes us feel something. Of all jazz pianists playing today, Brad Mehldau has made the most sustained and successful assault on the emotional inner ears of his listeners, and as a consequence, he has developed a frenzied following that crosses all musical boundaries. On Friday, January 22, Mehldau will make a rare solo appearance at the Lobero Theatre (33 E. Canon Perdido St.), a venue that is unquestionably among the world’s best places to hear this kind of recital. The concert begins at 8 p.m., and tickets and information can be obtained by calling 963-0761 or visiting lobero.com. Read on below for three reasons why you can’t miss this show.
1) He’ll Floor You: Each of Mehldau’s concerts contain at least one moment of astonishing, jaw-dropping, how-is-that-possible sonic beauty, and often whole strings of them. If you are new to his music and want a sample of what this claim might mean, visit bradmehldau.com and check out the live video of his performance of Nick Drake’s “Riverman” from 2008, which is complete bliss, or, as allmusic.com’s lead jazz critic Thom Jurek wrote of Mehldau, “nothing short of total delight.”
- Where: Lobero Theatre, 33 E. Canon Perdido St., Santa Barbara, CA
- Cost: $33 - $43
- Age limit: Not available
2) He’ll Run Rings Around You: Whether it’s through parsing the brainy elegance of the songs Mehldau composed based on Rainer Maria Rilke’s poetry for Love Sublime: Songs for Soprano and Piano, by headbanging to the exuberant inventiveness of his cover of Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun,” or by reading the thought-provoking pages of his extensive self-authored liner notes, you will fall under the spell of Mehldau’s big brain. He’s a model of the contemporary musician as public intellectual, so it’s cool to dig the man’s monumental rigor and depth.
3) He’s At His Absolute Peak: Now, just six months shy of 40, Mehldau has grown enormously as an artist since his debut album, Introducing Brad Mehldau, in 1995. With several identifiable periods and major creative breakthroughs during the course of more than 20 full-length recordings and an untold number of concerts, Mehldau has transcended all categories and redefined the horizons of jazz piano. Now’s definitely the time to catch this raw musical force au naturale.