Mehliana: Taming the Dragon
Pianist Brad Mehldau is well known for his interpretation of the Great American Songbook, but his work often draws on classical music too. And he’s no stranger to rock or pop; he sounds at home covering rock songs or collaborating with pop producer Jon Brion. On 2014’s Taming the Dragon, he teams with drummer Mark Guiliana; they call their duo Mehliana. Together they make music that comes off like an update of '70s prog rock and fusion. Mehldau plays Fender Rhodes and synthesizer here, often at the same time, creating a rich tapestry of tones. Guiliana is a great drummer; his playing is full of nuance, and he's as precise as a machine when he wants to be. The opening title track incorporates moody spoken word and surges of squelching synth and furious percussion. “Luxe” is a drum'n'bass-inflected slice of prog, where fidgety rhythms hook up with grand keyboard assertions. “Elegy for Amelia E.” marks a change in pace. Somber electric piano lines and sustained synth tones set the scene for a crackly recording of Amelia Earhart. The melancholy and restrained “London Gloaming” closes the album.