Who was the fifth Beatle? Discarded drummer Pete Best? Pianist Billy Preston? On this album, jazz pianist Brad Mehldau makes a case as the keyboardist they might’ve hired full-time. He plays Beatles songs as if he owns them, maybe even wrote them. That we experientially know he didn’t deeply enhances his accomplishment. After all, your mother should know.
As a topper, he closes with David Bowie’s “Life on Mars,” as tuneful and high-spirited as a vintage Beatles song. Doubters note: on, “I Saw Her Standing There” he lays serious rock‘n’roll chops out front. Otherwise, it’s jazzy investigations and re-imaginings, which the “late Beatles” would’ve dug. “Baby’s in Black” travels way around the bend, and “Golden Slumbers” goes further, an elaborate dream mustered with Keith Jarrett-ish gospel romping.
Tauter, but no less intriguing, are “For No One,” capturing the song’s stark poignance, and “She Said She Said,” the gorgeous Lennon tune that deserved such sophisticated ravishment.
The album opens with “I Am the Walrus” the surreal psychedelic trip that is as harmonically bent as most any Beatles song. Mehldau revels in its little musical perversities. Mehldau Plays further demonstrates the vast yet seemingly familiar Beatles world still spins out further possibilities of wonder.
This review was first published in The Shepherd Express: Your Mother Should Know: Brad Mehldau Plays the Beatles (Nonesuch) by Brad Mehdau – Shepherd Express