An Evocative New Piece From Brad Mehldau: “L.A. Pastorale”

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Brad Mehldau performs his piece “L.A. Pastorale,” from the album ‘I Still Play,’ due May 22, 2020, on Nonesuch: smarturl.it

‘I Still Play’ is eleven new solo piano compositions by artists who have recorded for Nonesuch Records, written in honor of the label’s longtime President Bob Hurwitz on the occasion of his 2017 shift into the Chairman Emeritus role. The album features works by John Adams, Laurie Anderson, Timo Andres, Louis Andriessen, Donnacha Dennehy, Philip Glass, Nico Muhly, Brad Mehldau, Steve Reich, Pat Metheny, and Randy Newman, performed by Andres, Mehldau, Newman, and Jeremy Denk.

Mehldau writes:

pastoral: having the simplicity, charm, serenity, or other characteristics generally attributed to rural areas.

How would that sentiment apply to Los Angeles, a metropolis of concrete, cars and freeways? Although I think of Bob as a New Yorker—he is part and parcel of my New York City experience in all the time I’ve known him—Los Angeles is his city of origin. It’s a place I know as well, having lived there for five years. A few years ago, Bob showed me a collection of photographs he made in L.A. that speak of something particular to that city: Amidst the urban facades, the brash advertisements that promise impossible salvation, and the ceaseless flow of humans, there is a quiet flow, and there are pockets of beauty if you take the time to look. It’s the L.A. pastorale.

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