Taming the Dragon

You know you like something when you’re prepared to brave sub-zero temperatures and snow-covered ground in order to see it.

Of course there’s always the risk that you might turn up and find it doesn’t live up to your expectations but in the case of my recent winter night visit to the Highline Ballroom to see Brad Mehldau and Mark Guiliana I was unsure exactly what to expect.

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Mehldau is a superb jazz pianist with a very eclectic output. His ‘Art of the Trio’ album feels almost retro while his albums with jazz guitarist Pat Metheny have a more experimental feel.

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Mark Guiliana clearly knows the work of Art Blakey but also that of J Dilla, so the idea of these two together was intriguing

It turned out that end result of mixing these two ingredients was a highly fluid and involving electro funk that brilliantly improvises without ever becoming boring.

It’s fine line between riffing on a melody and meandering off into a tune free cul-de-sac but musicians of the quality of Mehldau and Guiliana also know where that line is drawn.

Songs like Elegy for Amelia combined contemporary rhythms with a spoken word sample of the famous 30’s flier Amelia Earhart and in a way this is the perfect description of what I heard, a homage to the past and a brave step forward into the future.

‘Hungry Ghost’ from the yet to be released album ‘Taming the Dragon’ is currently available to buy on iTunes and is a great introduction to what this duo offers.

In short, if you ever find yourself  braving a snowstorm to see them but sure this music will warm you to your very soul.

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