In jazz, the term "cutting edge" conjures expectations of something so "out there" that it is not ready for mass acceptance.

In jazz, the term "cutting edge" conjures expectations of something so "out there" that it is not ready for mass acceptance. Here, the most "cutting edge" aspects of pianist Mehldau's latest are just what make this project so intriguing, particularly for those beyond the audience captivated by his more traditional recordings. Credit producer Jon Brion (Fiona Apple, the eels), whose reverb-soaked, electronically enhanced soundscapes often evoke the aural equivalent of a modern pop or rock record rather than a straight-ahead jazz date. Still, this is Mehldau's set, and whether backed by woodwinds ("Dusty McNugget"), going sci-fi (a cover of Radiohead's "Paranoid Android"), or summoning heavy metal (the dirge-like "Sabbath"), his sophisticated, classically influenced lines and improvisations are the centerpiece of each track. Frequent cohorts Jorge Rossy and Larry Grenadier make appearances, as do drummers Jim Keltner and Matt Chamberlain. Quite simply, this jazz disc rocks.—SG

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