A+ R A-
05 Feb

Brad Mehldau

Rate this item
(0 votes)

Jazz pianist BRAD MEHLDAU has recorded and performed extensively since the early 1990s. Mehldau’s most consistent output over the years has taken place in the trio format.

Starting in 1996, his group released a series of five records on Warner Bros. entitled The Art of the Trio. Mehldau also has a solo piano recording entitled Elegiac Cycle, and a record called Places that includes both solo piano and trio songs. Elegiac Cycle and Places might be called “concept” albums. They are made up exclusively of original material and have central themes that hover over the compositions. Other Mehldau recordings include Largo, a collaborative effort with the innovative musician and producer Jon Brion, and Anything Goes–a trio outing with bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Jorge Rossy.

His first record for Nonesuch, Brad Mehldau Live in Tokyo, was released in September 2004. After ten rewarding years with Rossy playing in Mehldau’s regular trio, drummer Jeff Ballard joined the band in 2005. The label released its first album from the Brad Mehldau Trio–Day is Done–on September 27, 2005. An exciting double live trio recording entitled Brad Mehldau Trio Live was   released on March 25th, 2008 (Nonesuch) to critical acclaim. On March 16, 2010 Nonesuch released a double-disc of original work entitled Highway Rider, the highly anticipated follow up to Largo. The album is Mehldau’s second collaboration with renowned producer Jon Brion and features performances by Mehldau’s trio–drummer Jeff Ballard and bassist Larry Grenadier–as well as percussionist Matt Chamberlain, saxophonist Joshua Redman, and a chamber orchestra led by Dan Coleman.

Mehldau’s musical personality forms a dichotomy. He is first and foremost an improviser, and greatly cherishes the surprise and wonder that can occur from a spontaneous musical idea that is expressed directly, in real time. But he also has a deep fascination for the formal architecture of music, and it informs everything he plays. In his most inspired playing, the actual structure of his musical thought serves as an expressive device. As he plays, he listens to how ideas unwind, and the order in which they reveal themselves. Each tune has a strongly felt narrative arch, whether it expresses itself in a beginning, an end, or something left intentionally open-ended. The two sides of Mehldau’s personality–the improviser and the formalist–play off each other, and the effect is often something like controlled chaos.

Mehldau has performed around the world at a steady pace since the mid-1990s, with his trio and as a solo pianist. His performances convey a wide range of expression. There is often an intellectual rigor to the continuous process of abstraction that may take place on a given tune, and a certain density of information. That could be followed by a stripped down, emotionally direct ballad. Mehldau favors juxtaposing extremes. He has attracted a sizeable following over the years, one that has grown to expect a singular, intense experience in his performance.

In addition to his trio and solo projects, Mehldau has worked with a number of great jazz musicians, including a rewarding gig with saxophonist Joshua Redman’s band for two years, recordings and concerts with Pat Metheny, Charlie Haden and Lee Konitz, and recording as a sideman with the likes of Michael Brecker, Wayne Shorter, John Scofield, and Charles Lloyd. For more than a decade, he has collaborated with several musicians and peers whom he respects greatly, including the guitarists Peter Bernstein and Kurt Rosenwinkel and tenor saxophonist Mark Turner. Mehldau also has played on a number of recordings outside of the jazz idiom, like Willie Nelson’s Teatro and singer-songwriter Joe Henry’s Scar. His music has appeared in several movies, including Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut and Wim Wender’s Million Dollar Hotel. He also composed an original soundtrack for the French film, Ma Femme Est Une Actrice. Mehldau recently composed two new works commissioned by Carnegie Hall for voice and piano, The Blue Estuaries and The Book of Hours: Love Poems to God, which were performed in the spring of 2005 with the acclaimed classical soprano, Renee Fleming. These songs were recorded with Fleming and released in 2006 on the Love Sublime record; simultaneously, Nonesuch released an album of Mehldau’s jazz compositions for trio entitled House on Hill. In March 2007 Mehldau debuted the piano concerto "The Brady Bunch Variations for piano and orchestra" at Theatre du Chatelet in Paris with Orchestre national d'Ile-de-France.


Mehldau was appointed as curator of an annual four-concert jazz series at London's prestigious Wigmore Hall during its 2009-10 and 2010-11 seasons, with Mehldau appearing in at least two of the four annual concerts. In late January 2010 Carnegie Hall announced the 2010-11 season-long residency by Mehldau as holder of the Richard and Barbara Debs Composer’s Chair at Carnegie Hall–the first jazz artist to hold this position since it was established in 1995. Previous holders include Louis Andriessen (2009—2010), Elliott Carter (2008—2009), and John Adams (2003—2007).





As Leader  

Highway Rider (Nonesuch Records) 2010

Brad Mehldau Trio Live (Nonesuch Records) 2008

House On Hill (Nonesuch Records) 2003/2004

Day Is Done (Nonesuch Records) 2004

Live in Tokyo (Nonesuch Records) 2003

Anything Goes (Warner Bros. Records) 2002

Largo (Warner Bros. Records) 2001

Progression — Art of the Trio, Volume 5 (Warner Bros. Records 48005) 2000

Places — (Warner Bros. Records 47693) 2000

Art of the Trio 4 — Back at the Vanguard (Warner Bros. Records 47463) 1999

Elegiac Cycle - (Warner Bros. Records 47357) 1999

Art of the Trio Volume 3 - Songs (Warner Bros. Records 47051) 1998

Art of the Trio Volume 2 - Live at the Village Vanguard (Warner Bros. Records 46848) 1997

Art of the Trio Volume 1 (Warner Bros. Records 46260) 1996

Introducing Brad Mehldau (Warner Bros. Records 45997) 1995


As Co-Leader  

Quartet (with Pat Metheny) (Nonesuch) 2007

Metheny Mehldau (Nonesuch) 2006

Love Sublime (with Renee Fleming) 2006

Close Enough for Love- Fleurine (EmArcy/Verve) 2000

NY Barcelona Crossing (Fresh Sound FSNT-031)

NY Barcelona Crossing #2 (Fresh Sound FSNT-037)

When I Fall In Love -Mehldau & Rossy Trio (Fresh Sound FSNT-007)


As Sideman  

Pilgrimage — Michael Brecker (Heads Up/Telarc)

Timeless Tales - Joshua Redman Quartet (Warner Bros. 47052)

In This World - Mark Turner (Warner Bros. 47074)

Teatro - Willie Nelson (Island 314524548)

Moodswing - Joshua Redman Quartet (Warner Bros. 45643)

Alone Together - Lee Konitz/Charlie Haden (Blue Note 57150)

Warner Jams, Volume One (Warner Bros. 45919)

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil Soundtrack (Warner Bros. 46829)

Warner Bros. Jazz Christmas Party (Warner Bros. 46793)

Something Blue — Lee Konitz/Charlie Haden (Blue Note)

Young at Heart — Jessie Davis (Concord CCD 45651)

Downtown Sounds — Grant Stewart (Criss-Cross Jazz 1085)

Ademuz — Perico Sambert + 10 (EGT 660)

Somethings Burnin’ — Peter Bernstein (Criss-Cross Jazz 1091)

Signs of Life — Peter Bernstein (Criss -Cross Jazz 1095)


As Guest Artist  

Allen Toussaint - The Bright Mississippi (2008)

Robert Sadin - Art of Love (2008)

Joe Martin - Not By Chance (2008)

Fleurine - San Francisco (2007)

Vinicius Cantuaria - Cymbals (2007)

Joni Mitchell - A Tribute to Joni Mitchell (2006)

Harvey Mason - With All My Heart (2003)

Fleurine - Fire (2002)

Wayne Shorter - Alegria (2001)

John Patitucci - Communion (2001)

Lea DeLaria - Play It Cool (2001)

Kevin Mahogany - Portrait of Kevin Mahogany (2000)

Steve Davis - Potrait in Sound (2000)

Vinicius Cantuaria - Vinicius (2000)

Joe Henry - Scar (2000)

Ruth Cameron - Roadhouse (1999)

Willie Nelson - Teatro (1998)

Avishai Cohen - Adama (1998)

Scott Welland - 12 Bar Blues (1998)

Allen Mezquida - A Good Thing (1992)



Career Highlights:  

-                     2009 Grammy Nominee — Best Jazz Instrumental Brad Mehldau Trio: Live

-                     2008 Edison Award — Jazz International

-                     2008 Top 20 Talents to Watch in 2008 — The Daily Telegraph (UK)

-                     2007 Best Artist: Piano — Downbeat Reader’s Poll

-                     2006 Miles Davis Award — Montreal Jazz Fest

-                     2004 Best Artist: Piano - Down Beat Readers Poll

-                     1999 Grammy Nominee — Best Jazz Instrumental Art of the Trio 4, Back at the           Vanguard

-                     Top 10 Album of 1999 Time Magazine — Elegiac Cycle

-                     “Jazz Pianist of the Year” 1999, 2000 and 2002 Down Beat Readers Poll

-                     Best Jazz Artist of 1999 Musica Jazz Critics Poll (Italy)

-                     #1 Talent Deserving of Wider Recognition Acoustic Jazz Piano -1997, 1998 & 1999 Down Beat Critics Poll

-                     #1 Talent Deserving of Wider Recognition Acoustic Jazz Group -1998   & 1999 Down Beat Critics Poll

-                     "Choc" Award 1999 Le Monde de la Musique - Elegiac Cycle

-                     New Star of 1998 - Swing Journal Disc Award (Japan)

-                     Best Jazz Album of the Year 1998: Songs - Jazzman magazine (France)

-                     Best Foreign Musician of the Year - D’Jango d’Or 98 (France)

-                     The Best CD of 1997 - Acadamie du Jazz (France)

-                     1997 Grammy Nominee - Best Jazz Instrumental Solo

-                     1997 UPI Top 10 — Art Of The Trio, Vol. 1 - Jazz Album of the Year

-                     Best New Artist of 1997 - Jazz Times Readers Poll

-                     Best New Talent of 1997 - Musica Jazz Critics Poll (Italy)

-                     Debut Artist of the Year 1997 - New York Jazz Awards


Last modified on Wednesday, 21 March 2012 07:13
More in this category: « Chick Corea Poogie Bell »