Over the past two decades, Brad Mehldau has earned a spot in the jazz piano firmament next to Keith Jarrett, Chick Corea and Fred Hersch as a supremely expressive improviser who turns performances into emotionally wrought journeys. He’s an ambitious composer and adventurous song sleuth, as likely to interpret an atmospheric Bjork tune as a treasured Irving Berlin ballad, at times seamlessly blending the two. An artist whose wide-ranging vision is impossible to sum up in one sentence or performance, Mehldau settles into the SFJAZZ Center for a four-day residency, stretching out in a fascinating array of intimate settings.
In 2011, Mehldau also released a gorgeous duo project with fellow piano master Kevin Hays, Modern Music (Nonesuch), a fascinating project focusing on the compositions and arrangements of jazz/classical composer Patrick Zimmerli. On Friday, Hays joins Mehldau again for a special night of keyboard wizardry.