ReviewsThis is incredible writing. It’s loose, specific and sharp as a knife. Brad writes words like he plays piano – with delicate strength and a gift for accessing memories and turning them into thick emotions.
I feel lucky to be around while Brad is here with us. He seems to have access to wells of memories and emotions that few people do. I love his writing as much as I love his music.
It’s hard to go backwards and access memories like Brad does here. They are dark, funny, inspiring and moving. Its details are what makes it special – the kind of things that only happen when you open yourself.
Paul Thomas Anderson
Brad Mehldau’s elegant clarity and lyrical interiority, hallmarks of his artistry as a jazz pianist, also stamp every page of this brilliant and affecting memoir — rooted in a fearless, radical candor. Rarely has an artist revealed themselves so fully as a prism onto the meaning of their art, and a chronicle of a dynamic moment in time.
Nate Chinen, author of Playing Changes: Jazz For the New Century
Brad Mehldau is our jazz generation’s Conjurer-In-Chief. His music is nothing short of magic — an impossible wonder of ecstatic and empathic creative communion, to which I myself have borne witness, time and time again. Now, in this probing and provocative memoir, Brad finally shares with us some of the secrets (or at least the stories) behind the casting of his innumerable spells. A worthy read for anyone intrigued by the genesis of genius.
Few jazz biographies are this personal, and this raw, but then few are so good.
Mehldau's writing style reflects both his musical character and his persona; juxtaposing deep philosophical insight with intensely personal experiences described in straight-talking, graphic detail. He is equally eloquent writing about Harold Bloom's and Terry Eagleton's views on ideology in art as he is writing about shooting up heroin in a run-down building, needing to call an ambulance, and getting arrested.
Throughout the book, Mehldau keeps the reader engaged in a compelling account of a twisted life which threatened to derail the music and the musician but in which, thankfully, the music prevailed.
London Jazz News
An eloquent, sometimes jarring, often riveting, mix of erudition and self-revelation.
An unflinching account of his turbulent first quarter-century, recounting and intersectionally contextualizing, in searing, transparent detail, the circumstances that framed the establishment of the musical relationships and tonal personality that he has elaborated and refined ever since.
An overwhelming book. Incredibly honestly and honestly written, this is a biography of a kind you really don't read very often. A book in which you feel, in everything it contains, that he had to write it and did not want to hold anything back. A book is a great purging of the past and a very deep dive into his life.
Written in Music
Mr. Mehldau explores his formation as a musician and a man in this memoir covering the first 26 years of his life; a sequel is in the works. Now 52, the winner of a Grammy Award, a noted composer, a bandleader, sideman and solo player on a string of acclaimed recordings, Mr. Mehldau is one of the top pianists in all of jazz. He is also a vivid writer with a compelling story to tell, one of pain and suffering—one, too, of persistence, hope and faith.
The Wall Street Journal
Less scholarly—and more formulaic—biographies of Mehldau will no doubt eventually see the light of day, but only Mehldau himself could have delivered a story so confessional, so searingly honest, that the very writing of it must have proven cathartic.
All About Jazz
His memoir shows Mehldau going toward something dangerous in every phase of life, and a musician writing a book is yet another.
For all his efforts, Mehldau never begs his readers for approval or applause; he discovers flaws that—let’s face it—turn up in other addiction memoirs. But endlessly and imaginatively, he recombines them, makes them his own. It’s his genius.