Pat Metheny and Brad Mehldau - Meeting of minds

The release of Metheny Mehldau is the jazz event of the year by some distance. It’s the first time guitarist Pat Metheny and pianist Brad Mehldau have recorded together and presents a fascinating match of two musical forces who have become world renowned jazz figures. Metheny, for his wealth of critically and commercially successful records, guitar virtuosity and free wheeling jazz spirit, Mehldau for his dark neo-Gothic treatments of jazz standards and the figure who has made interpretations of Radiohead and Nick Drake de rigueur for the hip young jazz musician. In this exclusive Stuart Nicholson talks to Pat Metheny about the secretive recording session that spawned the record and a future release by the pair, and finds out how Pat and Brad found themselves playing a Whitney Houston song at a birthday party when they first met. Then Brad Mehldau talks to Stephen Graham about notions of Americana, his “Gothic tinge” and declares that he is a “notoriously bad collaborator” Pat Metheny and Brad Mehldau - Meeting of minds
It’s top of record company executives’ most fevered wish-lists. Bring together two of the most bankable names in jazz to collaborate on their first ever album. But when guitarist Pat Metheny and pianist Brad Mehldau got together in the recording studio to record Metheny Mehldau, their record company had no idea this unique piece of musical matchmaking was taking place. “Actually we didn’t tell the record company about it,” says Metheny down the line from his Manhattan home. “It was just, ‘well look, let’s just do it. We’re not even going to talk about it. Let’s just get a few days in the studio, see what happens and if it’s great, cool. If it’s not, then we’ll just have fun.’

“I have used that strategy on myself a few times in the past, the record I made with Dave Holland and Roy Haynes years back was like that. It was [a case of] ‘let’s not even talk about it’. We’ll just go in the studio and see what happens. If it’s a release, it’s a release and if it’s a jam session, it’s a jam session. For me it’s often useful to avoid the pressure, and in this case we both responded to that.”

Metheny says it was a collaboration that was always going to happen, it was just a question of when. “We had never really spoken about recording together, we just sort of implicitly knew we were going to do this, maybe for 10 years, without even speaking about it,” he explains.

“Then we started an e-mail exchange that we should just do something, yet at the same time we both knew the expectation on a variety of levels would be enough, there would be a certain pressure, which I just wanted to avoid.”

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