Brad Mehldau is becoming a more interesting, more thought-provoking, more individualistic musician with each release – breaking away from the same old models, finding new ones to integrate into his own personality. The 11 compositions on this CD were conceived on the road, and only midway through did Mehldau realize that they developed similar ideas. Which indeed they do, seizing upon repeated riffing and vamps that Keith Jarrett has explored and sending them in cogent directions.
House on Hill may be a new recording, but the material is not. Virtually everything here was written, according to his liner notes like Keith Jarrett, Brad Mehldau writes about himself best in a session done in 2004 which yielded 18 songs with bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Jorge Rossy. The decision was made to split the sets into originals and covers. The covers became 2004's Anything Goes.
Brad Mehldau did an exceptional job of keeping his stellar trio together for seven years, as proven by his fine Art of the Trio dates and 2004's Anything Goes. But Jorge Rossy, the group's drummer, began spending more and more time away from music and at his home in Spain. Mehldau, who is almost prolific in his recording process, recruited drummer Jeff Ballard to replace Rossy on Day Is Done.
Three years passed between the release of the Brad Mehldau's Day Is Done and this live outing. What's so significant about this is simply that the former record marked the debut of drummer Jeff Ballard, who had replaced longtime kitman Jorge Rossy. Ballard is a more physical, busier, and more energetic drummer, allowing for Mehldau and bassist Larry Grenadier to up the ante in terms of dynamic and rhythmic options. Day Is Done offered a number of wonderfully contrasting moments where Mehldau, a big pop music fan from all eras, wove a tapestry from Burt Bacharach and John Lennon to Nick Drake and Colin Greenwood, from Paul Simon to Chris Cheek, as well as inserting a few of his own compositions.