I will be writing a column on Length & Time in music, in each presenting an album and its strategies that pertain to addressing Length & Time.
Vocal music has surpassed instrumental music in popularity despite the advent of electronica music and its subgenres. It’s a sign of deep cultural change, as the change in importance from the cantanta to that of the sonata with the advent of classical music also was.
Brad Mehldau records instrumental music that could be more popular as vocal music: romantic songs, blues, ballads, and even an album named Ode (as in the genre of poetry.) He seems to feel a particular conviction about instrumental music.
He has just released an album with Joshua Redman, Nearness. Featuring songs with titles such as “The Nearness of You,” but also “Old West,” the album seems to explore a theme beyond the grasp of its listener. Redman’s playing and sharp and sober and so is Mehldau’s for all 6 rhythmic and romantic compositions. Like for classical music, the birth of instrumental music’s hegemony, this sort of music is made to be appreciated and deciphered and even patroned as Jazz often is in present day.