Brad Mehldau explores his prog rock roots with new album ‘Jacob’s Ladder’

Brad Mehldau’s new album Jacob’s Ladder is inspired by scripture, spirituality and the prog rock that led to his discovery of jazz. Mehldau has released a video for his brand new song maybe as his skies are wide, taken from Jacbob’s Ladder, which will be released through Nonsuch Records on March 18. The song builds off an interpolation of Rush’s classic Tom Sawyer.

Meldau comments: “The musical conduit on the record is prog. Progressive rock was the music of my childhood, before I discovered jazz. It matched the fantasy and science fiction books I read from C.S. Lewis, Madeleine L’Engle and others at that time, aged 10 through 12. It was my gateway to the fusion of Miles Davis, Weather Report, Mahavishnu Orchestra and other groups, which in turn was the gateway to more jazz. Jazz shared with prog a broader expressive scope and larger-scale ambitions than the rock music I had known already.

The prog from Rush, Gentle Giant, and Emerson, Lake and Palmer here only hints at the genre’s conceptual, compositional and emotional range.  These bands and others have continued to influence newer groups that bring prog impulses into the arena of hard rock and screaming math metal, like Periphery, whose music is included here, and also inspired the screaming vocals on Herr und Knecht. I tried to avoid a direct tribute approach to all the songs, and opted in some cases for excerpts, or reworking of themes.”