BRAD MEHLDAU & CHRIS THILE | New York, Bowery Ballroom

One is a pianist who cites influences from Bach to Radiohead, the other a singer/mandolin player who admires artists from Radiohead to Bach. It is apparent from the get go that Brad and Chris are onto something good.

The most pleasing element of the way the two play off each other is that it’s never entirely clear who’s about to lead the tune or charge off on some finger-rattling improvisation. Whilst soft, the mandolin is never lost against the piano and the vocals are well placed in the set in numbers like Bob Dylan’s ‘Don’t Think Twice It’s All Right’. In a moment of terrifying intricacy they launch into an overlay of ‘St Anne’s Reel’ and Charlie Parker’s ‘Dexterity’, bouncing from section to section and then seamlessly nailing complex runs of a Celtic jig.

There was singing, there was telepathic playing and there was gentle heckling from the crowd. The Bowery Ballroom simultaneously had the feeling of a hidden concert hall and a local community space, conjured by the dexterous talent and kind nature of the two artists.

If you have a fondness for Mehldau’s innovative jazz covers and/or Thile’s work with Yo-Yo Ma in the Goat Sessions, this is a collaboration to keep an ear open for — it’s a treat.

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