My first discovery of Brad Mehldau’s music was about 20 years ago when someone recommended that I listen to his version of The Beatles’ Blackbird, on his second trio album, The Art of the Trio Volume One. This, and the other songs on the album, made me a lifelong fan of his work. With a wide range of original songs, and intriguing covers – not just the usual jazz standards, but songs by rock bands like Radiohead, Nick Drake, Elvis Costello, Soundgarden, Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix, Nirvana, and even Yes – Mehldau’s music shows a wide range of influences.
But his Beatles covers stand out. His nine-and-a-half minute cover of And I Love Her, on Blue and Ballads, is a wonderful set of variations on this simple song, and one of my favorites.
Mehldau recently released an album of Beatles songs – with one David Bowie song at the end – recorded live in Paris, called Your Mother Should Know: Brad Mehldau Plays The Beatles. So here’s a playlist of most of Mehldau’s Beatles’ covers, together with that album. Many of these covers are of songs that you wouldn’t expect someone to play on jazz piano, such as I Am the Walrus or Maxwell’s Silver Hammer, but they all work on piano, as Mehldau deconstructs the songs and improvises around them.