Places, from 2000, continues conceptually where the previous ‘Elegiac Cycle’ left off. It is a cycle with a theme that returns once more in the end. The role of memory is also important here. The opening motto heard in ‘Los Angeles’ returns throughout the record and plays on our memory. Los Angeles was home for Mehldau during this time, so the theme often represents home, but home seen from a distance.
The idea is that a place is more captivating in our memory than it ever was when we were actually present there. Mehldau explains his experience of this phenomenon in the liner notes of the album, and understands this irony as something central to our experience of life. The titles of the record are, to a certain point, obligatory: each song is named after where it was written, over a year’s time that was full of travel.
But this record is emphatically not a ‘travelogue’: the songs do not necessarily reflect anything of the place where they were written, and if they do, it is incidental and not central to the theme of the record. “The album’s theme is a bit solipsistic, actually,” says Mehldau, “because it deals with the subject’s own consciousness – my own – more than whatever object I’m perceiving or not perceiving.” The group of compositions is roughly split half and half between a solo piano setting and the trio format, with Larry Grenadier on bass and Jorge Rossy on drums. (bradmehldau. com)
H. Sterner in Scala 9/00: "Der Mann ist noch keine
Dreißig, und doch zählt er zu den bedeutendsten Jazz-
pianisten der Gegenwart. Mit vier Platten "The Art Of
The Trio" Vol. 1-4 und dem 1999 vorgelegten "Elegiac
Cycle" brachte der einstige Sideman des Saxofonisten
Joshua Redman bereits fünf Scheiben heraus, die allesamt
Format von Piano-Klassikern besitzen. Dabei überschattete
diese früheren Platten meist der zarte Nebel unbe-
stimmter Melancholie. Den haben bei der aktuellen
Produktion stärker als je kräftige Sonnenstrahlen auf-
gerissen. Sichtbar werden "Places" mit kräftigen Farben
wogende Kornfelder und verblüffende Städtebilder."