One doesn’t really need an excuse to spend a weekend in Pamplona …. a beautiful place and good food …. and this time my friend Badi Assad performing as well and as I hadn’t seen her for a while, we took a bunch of friends a went together to enjoy the music and the city – and both rewarded us with their best! Badi’s solo performances are amazing – she not only is a great guitar player (which obviously runs in the family with the Brothers Assad her actual brothers…), but she is an inventive and amazing singer and her vocal acrobatics are unparalleled, but never simply for the effect, but in support of her music. Any chance to see and hear her – go and enjoy her Brazilian flavoured compositions and stylish musical performance.
The Brad Mehldau Trio at Teatro Lara in Madrid was one of the best shows in a while to hear – this is one of the best and tightest bands in jazz nowadays – the communication while playing is on a level only few groups now can achieve and Brad and Larry Grenadier and Jeff Ballard are all masters in their own right and therefore can take the music to places and levels unknown … Mehldau’s touch and lyricism are unmatched and the support he gets from Larry and Jeff gives him the freedom to improvise and play with the themes and tunes in any form he wants … and how he does !! A full house, with many familiar faces from the artists community in Madrid, gave them a deserved standing ovation.
A week later another trio and another top one: The Bad Plus. They just released a new album – The Rite of Spring and their version is full of power and amazingly close to the original music and its emotional content. Unfortunately, because of some problems with the original Publisher of the work, they are not allowed to perform the piece in concert in Europe and therefore played music from their previous record Made Possible and some new pieces, to be released on a new jazz album in October – and pretty amazing it was! What a powerful trio they are- driven by Dave King’s thunderous play, that often drifts into a delicate groove and Reid Anderson’s grounded bass and Ethan Iverson’s inventiveness on the piano – and some of the compositions are truly amazing – like Pound for Pound from the album Made Possible – incredible how they are using the space and stretch the little melody …. I am sure looking forward to the new record, as some of the music was simply outstanding.