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Thread: Thile / Mehldau

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    Default Thile / Mehldau

    I'm sure there are other threads pertaining to Thile / Mehldau shows, but I just have to say that I caught them tonight at a very nice-sounding venue (Sharon Lynn Wilson Theatre in suburban MKE) and .... goodness, this was was musicianship of such a high level.

    This format lends itself well to Chris's intimate vocal songs... man is he an emotive singer -- a times, you could hear a pin drop -- and he completely sucked you in without playing a note. And no need to talk about his playing, or Brads. There were so many moments where I just had to shake my head, and not tear up, it was so good. This was a pretty "classy" crowd, and it was all I could do to contain myself in my seat during Thile's peaks... and Mehldau threw in some crazy stuff that, from my 4th row seat, even seemed to take Thile by surprise. They did a version of Neil Young's "Tell Me Why" that started by 'respecting' the flavor of the tune, but then jazzed it up, which I didn't think was working ... and after revisiting the core feeling of the song, started to funk it up. Again, I'm thinking "whao, pushing it for such a classic Niel tune", but then.... they went places with it and it was just gorgeous and pure magic.

    Life is rough for in many ways these days, but man, for an hour and a half... life was very very good.
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    Registered User Toni Schula's Avatar
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    Default Re: Thile / Mehldau

    +1: Saw them, heard them, loved them.

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    Registered User Miltown's Avatar
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    Default Re: Thile / Mehldau

    I was also there. Short version? Amazing, virtuosic performances by both Mehldau and Thile (not a surprise to anyone, I'm sure).

    Slightly longer version: Playing with Mehldau is I think the best setting I've ever heard for Thile. The interplay between the two of them is astounding, and their energy is palpable. Like all of us, I'm in awe of Thile the technician, but maybe like some others, I've sometimes been left cold by his singing and songwriting. This jazz duo, however, is exactly his wheelhouse, and Mehldau sombers the mood enough to tap down some of Thile's boyish exuberance (which I love, but in small doses). In other words, there wasn't a moment I wasn't absolutely enthralled by their playing -- and that isn't always the case when I see Thile perform (I've seen him a lot).

    I hope this collaboration between Thile and Mehldau continues beyond this current tour. In my opinion, it has brought out the best in Thile, as a virtuoso mandolinist, a singer, and a songwriter.

    By the way, a true highlight for me was their cover of Fiona Apple's "Fast as You Can." I hope a version of that ends up on Youtube at some point, because I'd really like to hear it again.
    Last edited by Miltown; Sep-15-2017 at 10:40am.

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    Registered User Miltown's Avatar
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    Default Re: Thile / Mehldau

    Quote Originally Posted by mtm View Post
    This was a pretty "classy" crowd, and it was all I could do to contain myself in my seat during Thile's peaks... and Mehldau threw in some crazy stuff that, from my 4th row seat, even seemed to take Thile by surprise.
    It was my first time at the venue. If there has ever been a venue more tailor-made for wealthy suburbanites who fear entering city centers, well, I'd be shocked. Don't get me wrong -- it was a beautiful venue, and the theater sounded great. I'm just surprised they let me into the joint.

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    Default Re: Thile / Mehldau

    Quote Originally Posted by Miltown View Post
    It was my first time at the venue. If there has ever been a venue more tailor-made for wealthy suburbanites who fear entering city centers, well, I'd be shocked. Don't get me wrong -- it was a beautiful venue, and the theater sounded great. I'm just surprised they let me into the joint.
    My first time there too, and I wore my best jeans for the occasion !!! I got quite a few looks in the lot when I pulled up on a Harley ... I was heartened that there was one other cycle in the lot!!! They do know how to built nice venue, the sound was perfection.

    BTW, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that I was close enough to see that Chris was playing a "dark" pic, so not the Wegan. Not close enough to see "BC" on the pick, however.
    - 2013 Eastman MD 505
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    Default Re: Thile / Mehldau

    Lol on the pick observation. I saw him with Bela a couple months ago, and he primarily used the Wegen, but did use a BC on a couple of songs, and actually switched to it in the middle of one of their songs...

    I remain amazed at what the man can do with a mandolin, regardless of his pick! Would love to catch him and Brad...
    Chuck

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    Default Re: Thile / Mehldau

    I want to see the two of them perform so bad! Their cover of "Don't think twice, Its alright" is amazing. Their upcoming shows in Europe would be quite a treat to go see, in those old theatres. Wow!

  9. #8

    Default Re: Thile / Mehldau

    The only thing disappointing about this collaboration is that the album doesn't come close to capturing the full magic of these two in live performance. One of the only shows in my life where I repeatedly had to remind myself to breathe.

    I was in a near-permanent state of astonishment the whole time, not least because these two were apparently hell-bent on repeatedly surprising themselves from one moment to the next. A damned fine example of true conversational dialogue through music.

  10. #9

    Default Re: Thile / Mehldau

    I hope they come somewhere near Ohio. I've been fortunate to see Chris twice this year (first with Bela, second with American Acoustic), but I love the album with Mehldau. My favorites are the opening track and "Scarlet Town."

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    Registered User Miltown's Avatar
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    Default Re: Thile / Mehldau

    Thinking about Thile and Mehldau a bit more, the reason I like Thile in this context more than many others he plays in is that I feel his singing is more suited to jazz than to bluegrass or other "folk" idioms. His voice is just too smooth, too, well, polished. I like a bit of grit in my folk singers' voices.

    In my opinion, Thile would be better suited singing high tenor in bluegrass contexts, leaving the lead voice to someone else. But for jazz? His perfect pitch (it's amazing, but he never seems to hit a bad note, singing or playing), extensive vocal range, and sweet tone are just right.

    Of course, it could be just as simple as I like jazz more than bluegrass.

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    Default Re: Thile / Mehldau

    I've noticed (and posted) that same observation -- I've never heard a sour note out of the guy. And I'm a jazz lover as well, so I'd love to see the Thile/Mehldau show live (or maybe Thile do an album of jazz standards?!).

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    Default Re: Thile / Mehldau

    Quote Originally Posted by Miltown View Post
    Thinking about Thile and Mehldau a bit more, the reason I like Thile in this context more than many others he plays in is that I feel his singing is more suited to jazz than to bluegrass or other "folk" idioms. His voice is just too smooth, too, well, polished. I like a bit of grit in my folk singers' voices.
    I don't mind his voice in folk context, but I agree it's fantastic for jazz. He really ticks the same boxes young Chet Baker did: sweet and mellow tone in every register, the ability to sing softly with full air and expression, and the timing and phrasing that makes ornamentation mostly unnecessary.

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    Registered User Miltown's Avatar
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    Default Re: Thile / Mehldau

    Quote Originally Posted by Drew Streip View Post
    (or maybe Thile do an album of jazz standards?!).
    Yes! This is what the mandolin world needs right now.

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    Default Re: Thile / Mehldau

    Saw them at SF Jazz last weekend......... great show! Great duet playing, both really in the moment with big ears and immediate response time. I'm so pleased I went, wasn't sure about this collaboration but it exceeded my expectations!!!

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