CULTURE

Jazz master Brad Mehldau makes his Athens debut

Comparisons should usually be avoided. In the case of pianist Brad Mehldau, though, it is difficult not to think of the great pianist Bill Evans, who also played with a trio (piano, bass, percussion) and added an unprecedented poetic touch to the jazz world. Enriching, not compromising The 38-year-old Mehldau seems to continue in Evans’s tradition, enriching his sound with contemporary elements without, however, compromising his style. He will perform at Athens’s Pallas Theater tomorrow with his trio, which further features bassist Larry Grenadier and percussionist Jeff Ballard. This will be Mehldau’s first concert in Greece. «I discovered jazz at 13, through a friend of my father’s,» he said in an interview with Kathimerini. «But I never stopped loving rock and pop as well as classical, Brahms and especially Bach.» In 1986, he found himself in Manhattan. «I was 16 and one night I listened to Hank Jones perform. The next night, I listened to Cedar Walton, both great pianists I had only known from their albums. That was when I decided to live there. The city is very inspiring, but I wouldn’t recommend that a young musician go there to learn jazz. Lots of excellent European jazz musicians never lived in New York.» When asked if he thinks there is a present and a future to jazz composition, Mehldau reacted: «It is always the same story, about good books not being written today, or great films not being produced. It is a commonplace historical mistake that happens often. What does not happen very often is to have great artistic works.» «I have no problem with an art form being elitist,» he said when asked if it bothers him that jazz has turned from folk music into an «elitist» type of music. «There is so much noise today that being able to discern what is beautiful requires a lot of effort. Few people will go to the trouble to do that. Few will have the curiosity. But jazz is not elitist – it is marginalized and ignored. All those musicians struggling to pay their bills would not describe it as elitist.» Damage to musicians Mehldau became really agitated when asked his opinion on Internet downloading. «It damages musicians. The new generation thinks it degrading to pay to listen to music. The theory that «every piece of information should be free» is an odd form of communism, meaning that there should be no property and that everybody should have equal access to everything. But, in reality, all those people just steal from the musicians without caring at all. It is ironic that it is the rich college kids who do that.» Pallas Theater, 5 Voukourestiou, tel 210.321.3100. For tickets, contact the theater box office or log on to www.ellthea.gr. The performance starts at 9 p.m. Tickets range from 35 to 70 euros.