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Brad Mehldau Trio
Brad Mehldau, piano
Larry Grendadier, bass
Jorge Rossy, drums
 
Biography of Brad Mehldau
 
Born in Jacksonville, Florida, in 1970, Brad Mehldau took classical piano lessons form the age of six to fourteen. He studied piano and composition at the Berklee School of Music and at the New School of Social Research with Kenny Werner, Junior Mance and Fred Hersch, who became his most influential teacher. He also took rhythmic classes with Jimmy Cobb and played in his band, Cobb's Mob. In the evening, Brad Mehldau met in the clubs his models like Kenny Barron or Cedar Walton. In 1994, Mehldau was part of the European tour of the Joshua Reman Quartet with Mehldau, Redman, Chris McBride and Brian Blade. This tour introduced him for the first time to an international audience. In 1995, he created his own Brad Mehldau Trio, together with Larry Grenadier (b) and Jorge Rossy (dr). The same year, their first album Introducing Brad Mehldau came out and received a lot of praise. From 1996 to 1999 they recorded four CDs with the title The Art of Trio, vol. 1-4. In 1997, Mehldau went to Los Angeles, were he worked, among others, with Charlie Haden. In 1999 his first solo album Elegiac Cycle came out and he went on a solo tour to promote it. This year, he is again on the road with his already famous trio.
 
Brad Mehldau combines jazz (Bill Evans, Keith Jarrett, Oscar Peterson) and classical (Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann) models and elements in his distinctive style. His classical education influences him even today. He considers the Beethoven Sonatas an inspiration, German music and poetry in general influence him. He is one of the most courageous jazz pianists who dares a lot and, at the same time, is well aware of the tradition, be it jazz or classical music. Mehldau describes his style as "romantic". For him, music is above all the expression of one's personality. In their polyphonic jazz, his trio often puts several meters one above the other. Larry Grenadier (b) and Jorge Rossy (dr) create the fundament of their trio, giving Mehldau the space to concentrate on his virtuosity, liberating his left hand from the duty of accentuating the chords.
 
In the booklet to his latest CD Art of the Trio 4 (with excellent versions of Solar, I'll Be Seeing You and Exit Music For A Film; get the CD from Amazon.com), Brad Mehldau explains that the way he and Larry Grenadier are "abstracting harmony has nothing to do with Bill Evans, who [...] generally stayed within the prescribed chords." Larry "constantly supplies shifting pedal points that serve pragmatically as the root for whatever harmony I'm suggesting. He's totally unlike Evans' Scott Lafoaro, who soloistically vied with the piano, often not supplying a root. Larry gives a bottom end to the harmony that allows me any possibility." Mehldau also refuses the comparison with Monk. For Brad, jazz means "taking leads from pop music of its day, and reanimating the stylistic garment into something transfigured by the force of its composition and improvisation."
 
Brad Mehldau Trio: Concert in Zurich, February 17, 2000
 
Brad Mehldau had already impressed the public in Zurich a year and a half ago with his solo concert. In February he presented his trio, but again, the 30-year old Brad Mehldau was the center of attention. Not that Larry Grenadier and Jorge Rossy did not meet the expectations, but Mehldau, with his personality and his creative ability, playing with closed eyes as in a trance, overshadowed his two friends, especially because the creative part in the trio largely lay on his shoulders.
 
The appearance of the Brad Mehldau Trio was not only the highlight of the evening (Dave Holland & Jim Hall had played before them), but of the whole Zurich jazz season so far. It was just a pity that, at least form the right hand side of the scene, behind the drums of Jorge Rossy, one could at times almost not hear the bass of Larry Grenadier.
 
The three young musicians fired the audience from the beginning. All four compositions of the regular program were over ten, some even over twenty minutes long, the comparison with a classical music concert was - not only for that reason - evident. They started with the classic tune The More I See You. Mehldau played from the first note on as if he was from another planet. A dreamy and indescribably enchanting Resignation, composed by Mehldau himself, followed. Bass and drums almost only served as accompaniment, but in a suble, subdued way.
 
The third piece of the evening was Long Ago and Far Away (Kern). Mehldau's solo part in the beginning sounded too technical, not melodious enough. As soon as the main theme started shining through and as bass and drums gently joined in, the tune became convincing too. Larry Grenadier, born in 1966 in San Francisco, has studied in Stanford (B.A.) and played with Stan Getz, tom Harrell, Joshua Redman and Betty Carter. Grenadier had his first important part in Long Ago and Far Away. Changes in volume and tempo characterized the interpretation of the tune. Jorge Rossy, born in 1964 in Barcelona, has played during his career with Joshua Redman and Paquito D'Rivera. It was up to him in the second part ot Long Ago and Far Away to introduce small solos, with Mehldau and Grenadier joining in with this dialogue, calming down and in the end heating up the music again.
 
In the end followed a quiet ballad with more fragile sounds. In his solo, Mehldau accompanied himself. His classical music education came to light in this most enchanting and purest moment of the evening, with parts reminiscent of Rachmaninov. With bass and drums skillfully rejoining him, it became clear that this trio is a team with a year-long experience of playing together.
 
As an encore, the Brad Mehldau Trio offered Exit Music for A Film (Radiohead) that is also part of his latest CD Art of the Trio 4. Mehldau, Rossy and Grenadier proved again that they don't have anything to fear from a comparison with the great trios of jazz history, such as the Oscar Peterson trion with Brown and Thipgen. And above all, they don't copy old and famous groups and styles, but they go their own way and have already found their distinictive style. The concert was a complete triumph.
 
C
omment by Gene Kelly (e-mail August 31, 2000):
"Hi. Just a comment on your Brad Mehldau Trio web page. A few corrections to bring to your attention: First of all, Brad never attended Berklee College (in Boston) as you say in the opening paragraph. He only was a participant in their High School Band Jazz Competition hosted at Berklee College of Music (he won an award there given to him by the festival's adjudicators). [...]. Otherwise, this is pretty good information. Good luck."


Added on July 6, 2006: Brad Mehldau Trio: House on Hill. Nonesuch/Warner, June 2006. Get the CD from Amazon.de, Amazon.com, Cede Schweiz.


Added on July 6, 2006: Brad Mehldau Trio: Day is Done. Nonesuch/Warner, September 30, 2005. Get the CD from Amazon.de, Amazon.com, Cede Schweiz.


Brad Mehldau Solo: Elegiac Cycle, Warner, June 7
, 1999. Get the CD from Amazon.de, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.fr, Amazon.com, Amazon Canada.
 

Brad Mehldau Trio: The Art Of Trio Vol. 4. Back At The Vanguard, (Live)
October 18, 1999. Warner. Album bestellen bei Amazon.de, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.fr, Amazon.com, Amazon Canada.

 

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