Superb young jazz pianist educated in New York, now living in Los Angeles. Known for being a Bill Evans imitator (false), and for covering songs by Radiohead, The Beatles, Nick Drake, and Elliott Smith.

Bio:

Born 1970 in Jacksonville, Florida, Brad Mehldau grew up in Connecticut. He took classical piano lessons from the ages of six to fourteen. Though he had always been interested in improvisational music, he discovered jazz around thirteen in its electric Fusion forms of Weather Report and Pat Metheny. At this point he fully immersed himself in jazz and went on to study piano and composition at the Berklee College of Music and at the New School of Social Research (now New School University) with Kenny Werner, Junior Mance and Fred Hersch (who became his most influential teacher). Along with fellow student Peter Bernstein (guitarist), he played gigs with one of his teachers Jimmy Cobb. In the clubs of New York Brad met piano legends like Cedar Walton and Kenny Barron. In the early 90s he was touring around Spain with two Spaniard brothers, Jorge and Mario Rossy. They recorded two live albums together as the Mehldau-Rossy Trio, one with saxophonist Perico Sambeat.

In 1994, Mehldau was part of Joshua Redman's Quartet along with Christian McBride and Brian Blade. This band toured Europe successfully and recorded an album, Mood Swing. In 1995, Brad created his own Brad Mehldau Trio, made of Larry Grenadier on bass and Jorge Rossy on drums. They released their first album that year, Introducing Brad Mehldau, along with help from Christian McBride and Brian Blade. From 1996 to 1999 his trio recorded four CDs entitled Art Of Trio, vols. 1-4. In 1997, Mehldau moved to Los Angeles, where he worked with, among others, Charlie Haden and Lee Konitz, with whom he recorded two live albums at the Jazz Bakery (Alone Together and Another Shade Of Blue). In 1999 his first solo album came out, Elegiac Cycle, and he went on a solo tour to promote it.

I had the fortune to see their show in Oakland, California at Yoshi's. I also saw the San Francisco show from Brad's solo tour. He has said since then that the San Francisco show was a bad night for him, musically. However, I was mesmerized by this young lion's profound sense of melodic phrasing and immaculate chops, but especially his rhythmic innovation. His solo style is often based around a simple sequence of increasingly complex abstractions of the song's melody, painting all kinds of permutations of the tune. A few more techniques he employs often:

  • Much more soloistic left hand compared to the chord comping typical of jazz.
  • Repetition of a rhythmic phrase in a linear sequence up or down the piano (this used to be the most prominent aspect of his style when he used one particular rhythmical figure in almost every song he played).
  • Echoing the melody of one hand with the other a few bars later in a delay effect.

Discography:

As a leader:

As a side-man: Appearances: Other miscellaneous notes: his love of the poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke, the writing of William S. Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg, and his respect for the music of Radiohead (he covers their "Paranoid Android" and "Exit Music (For A Film)" from the OK Computer album).



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