BRAD MEHLDAU — Jacob's Ladder

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BRAD MEHLDAU - Jacob's Ladder cover
3.50 | 1 rating | 1 review
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Album · 2022

Tracklist

1.maybe as his skies are wide
2.Herr und Knecht
3.(Entr’acte) Glam Perfume
4.Cogs in Cogs, Pt. I: Dance
5.Cogs in Cogs, Pt. II: Song
6.Cogs in Cogs, Pt. III: Double Fugue
7.Tom Sawyer
8.Vou correndo te encontrar / Racecar
9.Jacob’s Ladder, Pt. I: Liturgy
10.Jacob’s Ladder, Pt. II: Song
11.Jacob’s Ladder, Pt. III: Ladder
12.Heaven: I. All Once - II. Life Seeker - III. Wurm - IV. Epilogue: It Was a Dream but I Carry It Still

Line-up/Musicians

About this release

NONESUCH 7559791346

Thanks to snobb for the addition and js for the updates

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BRAD MEHLDAU JACOB'S LADDER reviews

Specialists/collaborators reviews

js
Well here it is, Brad Mehldau’s somewhat ballyhooed alleged return to his youthful progressive rock roots. Truth be told, “Jacob‘s Ladder“ is not exactly a prog rock album, which may be a good thing for some, but prog does play a big part on this rather eclectic album. Along with covers of some classic songs like “Tom Sawyer“, “Cogs in Cogs“ and “Starship Trooper”, you also get a fair share of ‘trappy’ electronica nu jazz, a synthesizer fugue, some readings from the Bible, semi-classical instrumental ballads, some art pop and more. In the prog tradition, this is a very ambitious album, but how does it all add up to the listener. To paraphrase from David Byrne, “some good points, and some not as good points”. Ambitious musically, but also literally as Brad muses on man’s relationship with God in his very thoughtful opening liner notes. Second track, “Herr und Knecht”, presents intense music as Tobias Bader screams out an internal debate from Hegel’s “Phenomenology”. Yes, some of this album is far from easy listening.

“Cogs in Cogs” gets three different treatments, first a nu jazz dubish instrumental, then a cover with vocals, and then finally a synthesizer fugue that sounds like a tribute to Wendy Carlos. “Tom Sawyer” gets a jazzy treatment and overall sounds a lot better without Geddy Lee’s vocals. On “Jacob’s Ladder II”, we get an excellent Mehldau piano solo over an electronic trap groove. “Jacob’s Ladder III” has Bible verses over sampled choirs and then ends with some very intense anguished screaming and yelling, you have been warned. Closing track “Heaven …” is an album highlight as the assembled all-star band does an excellent cover of “Starship Trooper”. Cecile McLorin Salvant’s beautiful wordless vocals open the track before Safia McKinney-Askeur comes into handle the lyrics. It closes out with Brad’s relaxed and lyrical piano solo over Yes’ famous closing three chord vamp.

I didn’t come close to covering all the material on here, there is just too much to cover. Brad seems to be wrestling with the big issues here, both spiritual and philosophical. It takes a certain amount of guts and integrity to release an album that aspires to be all that Mehldau presents here.

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