A word from Gene about Brad Mehldau (again): Just speaking personally (although I don’t’ think I’m alone in this) the music of BRAD MEHLDAU is a cherished place of sanctuary, a safe and therapeutic place for me for many years now. In today’s insanity realm this is true more than ever. I honestly believe his piano playing and composing is in the top select few of all pianists of all times. Period. Rejoice! I am so glad I am alive during the era while he works amongst us.
While sheltering at home with his family in the Netherlands during the COVID-19 pandemic, the brilliant modern jazz-classical renaissance man BRAD MEHLDAU wrote 12 new songs about what he was experiencing; he was able to record them safely in an Amsterdam studio, along with tunes by Neil Young, Billy Joel, and Jerome Kern, for the album SUITE: APRIL 2020. Recorded (safely) in a studio in Amsterdam, the album is an abundance of riches for those with a keen ear for boundary-pushing piano work, and it showcases Mehldau’s brilliant skills with improvisation and melody.
A Note From Brad About Suite: April 2020:
“Suite: April 2020” is a musical snapshot of life in the world in which we’ve all found ourselves. I’ve tried to portray on the piano some experiences and feelings that are both new and common to many of us. In ‘Keeping Distance,’ for example, I traced the experience of two people social distancing, represented by the left and right hand—how they are unnaturally drawn apart, yet remain linked in some unexplainable, and perhaps illuminating way. As difficult as COVID-19 has been for many of us, there have been moments of revelation along the way. ‘Stopping, Listening: Hearing’ highlights that moment as well.
I’ve pointed to some of the strong feelings that have arisen the past month or more: ‘Remembering Before All This’ expresses a bittersweet gut-pain that has hit me several times out of the blue, when I think back on how things were even just a few months ago, and how long ago and far away that seems now; ‘Uncertainty’ hits on the feeling that can follow right after that—a hollow fear of an unknown future.
There’s also been a welcome opportunity to connect more deeply with my family than we ever have, because of the abundant time and close proximity. The last three pieces hit on that connection—the harmony we find with each other, making meals together or just horsing around. ‘Lullaby’ is for everyone who might find it hard to sleep now.
Neil Young’s words in ‘Don’t Let It Bring You Down’ have always been counsel for me, now more than ever, when he instructs: ‘Don’t let it bring you down/It’s only castles burning/Find someone who’s turning/And you will come around.’ Billy Joel’s ‘New York State of Mind,’ a song I’ve loved since I was nine years old, is a love letter to a city that I’ve called my home for years, and that I’m far away from now. I know lots of people there and miss them terribly, and I know how much that great city hurts right now. I also know that it too will come around.
It’s been a painful time. I haven’t been able to get back to the U.S. since the Covid-19 virus closed everything down. I’ve made a wonderful life with my family here in Holland, but have had to watch the country of my origin, the country I still love, in turmoil. Since the senseless murder of George Floyd, I’ve been reflecting on what it might mean for me on how to be an “anti-racist”. It’s a term that Ibram X. Kendi in his book of the same title. He’s explaining that neutrality, or a “non-racist”, stance is not the opposite of racism. The opposite of racist is “anti-racist.” I feel like we’re at a time in American society, and in the whole world, where we can’t say we’re that we’re neutral. So I’m reflecting on what it might mean for me to be an anti-racist, and I know I’ve got some things to learn.
I’m so sorry for the family and loved ones of George Floyd, and also those of Breonna Taylor and David McAtee, recently. There are many more victims. I said I love my country, and what I mean is: I wish well for everybody there, from all backgrounds – people of color, white, liberal conservative, and every other stripe. I do not love only certain parts of it. The music I make has to do with an African-American experience that I’ve been privileged to draw from. It’s a unique, beautiful experience that’s precious to me and many other people everywhere – not just in America. It’s spread across the world to places like here in Amsterdam where I live, to the wonderful musicians who are from here; and many other places. It has its genesis though in a group of people who have been disenfranchised and marginalized for years, and recently, as the world has seen, slain by the people paid to protect them. This is one long tragedy that spans back through America’s history.
I still feel trepidation about releasing a record now, but I would ask anybody who does have the time and interest: have a look at the video that explains about the project, because I still believe in the idea behind it, and there’s a lot of great people who have come together to do something special here that might help others. God knows there are a lot of us who need some help right now.
Find the music of Mehldau and huge amounts of other amazing things to listen to by visiting our unique Jazz and Classical room while you are here. Or pick up Suite: April 2020 in our webstore.