Brad Mehldau’s approach to orchestration at the piano in a trio setting as demonstrated on “August Ending” (2004) and “Secret Beach” (2006) Fatin, Gabriel

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Fatin, Gabriel
Jazz; text; Piano
Brad Mehldau is one of the most accomplished and original pianists playing today, and his musical output is met with a grand reception from critics and the public alike. Influenced predominately by the jazz piano lineage including Wynton Kelly and McCoy Tyner, rock music, and classical music, he has developed a highly unique way of playing, which early on was reminiscent of Bill Evans. One of the most striking aspects of his playing is in the way that he orchestrates his improvisations across the piano. He has the ability to play independent solo melodies in his left hand and right hand simultaneously, as well as coordinating chordal accompaniment. This dissertation identifies the orchestrational methods used in two of Mehldau’s improvisations. They are categorised into three main types: firstly, traditional right hand solo left hand accompaniment roles, secondly, linear improvisations in both hands, and thirdly, a three-part method where the two outer parts solo melodically and the inner part provides chordal accompaniment. The defining characteristics of each approach are identified, informing a discussion of their use. Extra orchestrational concerns are similarly discussed, where interesting patterns arise.
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