One of the most lauded jazz pianists of his generation, Brad Mehldau is a supremely gifted musician, known for his atmospheric and spare solo performances. 10 Years Solo Live
presents an extensive collection of recordings handpicked by Mehldau and culled from at least 19 live concerts. These are solo shows Mehldau performed while on tour in Europe from 2004 to 2014. Clocking in at around 300 minutes and spread over four discs, these tracks are presented out of chronological order and with the intention of telling a story -- or at least taking the listener on a journey. Thankfully, whether you choose to engage this music by skipping around or listening straight through, there is much to enjoy. A true postmodernist, Mehldau's song choices run the gamut from well-worn standards ("My Favorite Things") to reworked alt-rock covers (Stone Temple Pilots
' "Interstate Love Song"), classical (Brahms
' "Intermezzo B flat major, Op. 76 No. 4"), and his own expansive original compositions. Also included are such Mehldau concert staples as his landmark ruminative reworking of Nirvana
's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" and his similarly inspired mash-up of the Verve
's "Bittersweet Symphony" and the Kinks
' "Waterloo Sunset." Elsewhere, we get languid, drawn-out jazz standards, such as his endlessly yearning, farsighted take on "On the Street Where You Live" and his delicately sweet, childlike interpretation of "I'm Old Fashioned." Adding to the sheer amount of music here are Mehldau's detailed liner notes in which he discusses his song choices, how he interprets a tune, and how he thinks of this material in retrospect. Mehldau is a philosopher and poet at his core, and this set finds him delving into some of his deeper inspirations, including reflections on God and musings about the contrast between light and dark, loud and soft, new and old. It's just the kind of intricate, deeply thoughtful writing one would expect from the man behind such intensely focused and beautifully crafted improvisations.