Brad Mehldau – Finding Gabriel (2019)

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Brad Mehldau’s Finding Gabriel is out now on Nonesuch Records. The album features performances by Mehldau on piano, synthesizers, percussion, and Fender Rhodes, as well as vocals. Guest musicians include Ambrose Akinmusire, Sara Caswell, Kurt Elling, Joel Frahm, Mark Guiliana, Gabriel Kahane, and Becca Stevens. “A soundtrack for our times … this is music beyond category,” says the AP’s Steven Wine. “[T]he intricate arrangements of wordless vocals are fascinating, and among the singers is Mehldau, who happens to have a lovely voice. Fetching melodies abound …” The Times of London gives a perfect five stars to the latest album from “the American jazz pianist, one of the best alive,” calling it “a warmly approachable album. The ten originals are melodious and the soundscapes built around them serene and stimulating.” Reviewer Chris Pearson concludes that “the dominant mood is of a master musician having fun.”


Mehldau explains, “Finding Gabriel came after reading the Bible closely for the last several years. The prophetic writing of Daniel and Hosea resonated in particular, as well as the wisdom literature of Job and Ecclesiastes, and the devotional words of Psalms. The Bible felt like a corollary and perhaps a guide to the present day—one long nightmare or a signpost leading to potential gnosis, depending on how you read it. The archangel Gabriel appeared to Daniel, telling him, ‘At the beginning of your pleas for mercy a word went out, and I have come to tell you, for you are greatly loved. Therefore consider the word and understand the vision.’ It seemed that the trick was to listen to Gabriel’s words through all the noise and find a way to explain the bedlam, not only to oneself, but to a young person with less of a reference as to what is right-side up—perhaps one’s own children.

 


Track listing & personnel:

1. The Garden
Becca Stevens: voice
Gabriel Kahane: voice
Ambrose Akinmusire: trumpet, solo
Michael Thomas: flute, alto sax
Charles Pillow: soprano sax, alto sax, bass clarinet
Joel Frahm: tenor sax
Chris Cheek: tenor sax, baritone sax
Brad Mehldau: OB-6 Polyphonic synthesizer, Therevox, Moog Little Phatty synthesizer, Steinway C grand piano, voice
Mark Guiliana: drums

2. Born to Trouble
“For affliction does not come from the dust, nor does trouble sprout from the ground; but man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward.” —Job 5. 6-7

Brad Mehldau: voices, OB-6, Little Phatty, Yamaha upright piano, Steinway C grand piano, drums

3. Striving After Wind
“I have seen everything that is done under the sun; and behold, all is vanity and a striving after wind.” —Ecclesiastes 1.1 4

Becca Stevens: voice
Gabriel Kahane: voice
Brad Mehldau: OB-6, Fender Rhodes, Little Phatty
Mark Guiliana: electronic drums

4. O Ephraim
“What shall I do with you, O Ephraim? Your love is like a morning cloud, like the dew that goes early away.” —Hosea 6.4

Brad Mehldau: voices, OB-6, Fender Rhodes, piano, Musser Ampli-Celeste, Morfbeats gamelan strips, drums

5. St. Mark Is Howling in the City of Night
Becca Stevens: voice
Gabriel Kahane: voice
Sara Caswell: violin
Lois Martin: viola
Noah Hoffeld: cello
Brad Mehldau: OB-6, piano, voice
Mark Guiliana: drums, electronic drums

6. The Prophet Is a Fool
“The prophet is a fool, the man of the spirit is mad, because of your great iniquity and great hatred.” —Hosea 9.7

Ambrose Akinmusire: trumpet, last solo
Michael Thomas: flute, alto sax
Charles Pillow: soprano sax
Joel Frahm: tenor sax, first and second solos
Chris Cheek: baritone sax
Brad Mehldau: Therevox, OB-6, xylophone, piano
Mark Guiliana: drums

7. Make It All Go Away
Becca Stevens: voice
Kurt Elling: voice
Brad Mehldau: OB-6, Little Phatty, piano
Mark Guiliana: drums

8. Deep Water
“Save me, O God! For the waters have come up to my neck, I sink in deep mire, where there is no foothold; I have come into deep waters, and the flood sweeps over me.” —Psalms 69.1-3

Becca Stevens: voice
Gabriel Kahane: voice
Sara Caswell: violin, end solo
Lois Martin: viola
Noah Hoffeld: cello
Brad Mehldau: piano, OB-6
Mark Guiliana: drums

9. Proverb of Ashes
“Your maxims are proverbs of ashes, your defenses are defenses of clay.” —Job 13.12

“Snorts” Malibu: opening voice
Kurt Elling: voice, middle solo
Brad Mehldau: OB-6, Little Phatty, Therevox, piano, ending voices
Mark Guiliana: drums
Aaron Nevezie: Korg Kaoss Pad

10. Finding Gabriel
“At the beginning of your pleas for mercy a word went out, and I have come to tell you, for you are greatly loved. Therefore consider the word and understand the vision.” —Daniel 9.23

Brad Mehldau: voices, Little Phatty, Yamaha CS-60 synth, Therevox, Mellotron, Hammond B-3 organ, piano, shaker, handclaps, drums



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