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WHO: Brad Mehldau Trio and Jimmy Cobb Quartet

WHEN: 8 p.m. Saturday

WHERE: Rockwell Hall Auditorium, Buffalo State College, 1300 Elmwood Ave.

TICKETS: $16 to $24; $13 to $19 seniors; $8 to $12 students

INFO: 878-3005

Brad Mehldau is the post-Keith Jarrett pianist jazz has needed for at least 10 years. It's not as if jazz, at the moment, isn't full of tremendous pianists under 40 but Mehldau is poetic, swinging, indefatigably brilliant and, with little apparent effort, able to connect jazz with the full continuum of Western art and thought. One could, if so inclined, furrow brows and be annoyed at a jazz pianist taking himself so seriously - no fewer than four discs in a series called "The Art of the Trio," another called "Elegiac Cycles," a composition called "Werther" (after Goethe's "The Sorrows of Young Werther"), disc notes that are like a mixmaster of allusions drained from the stacks of the nearest university library. What they all do, though, is fuel a musician whose frame of reference may be unique in jazz history, but also a musician who isn't so exquisite that he doesn't also sometimes swing his tail off.

With Mehldau's trio in a spectacular concert Saturday is the quartet of the venerable jazz drummer Jimmy Cobb, a man who, in youth, had the singular fortune to not only be the drummer in the biggest-selling jazz album of all time ("Kind of Blue") but in the group that is the nomination of many as the greatest in the entire history of jazz, the Miles Davis Sextet (John Coltrane, Cannonball Adderly, Bill Evans and Paul Chambers). To have played and toured with that band makes one an inhabitant of jazz Olympus. All those years with Sarah Vaughan don't hurt either. By special good fortune, Mehldau will do double duty as the pianist with Cobb's Quartet (Peter Bernstein is his guitarist).

A terrific jazz event by any definition.

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