News and Events
Center for the Arts Presented The Brad Mehldau Trio
The Pepperdine Center for the Arts presented the internationally acclaimed musical innovators The Brad Mehldau Trio on May 5 in Smothers Theatre on the Malibu campus.
Jazz pianist Brad Mehldau has recorded and performed extensively since the early 1990s. Beginning in 1995, Mehldau worked primarily with the same trio, featuring bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Jorge Rossy. In 2005 drummer Jeff Ballard replaced Rossy in Mehldau's trio.
Mehldau is first and foremost an improviser, and greatly cherishes the surprise and wonder that can occur from a spontaneous, directly expressed musical idea. But he also has a deep fascination for the formal architecture of music, and it influences 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. 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.
Between 1997 and 2001 The Brad Mehldau Trio released an impressive series of five recordings on the Warner Bros. label titled The Art of the Trio, and in 2004 released the album Anything Goes. During the Warner Bros. period, Mehldau also released a solo piano recording titled Elegiac Cycle, and a recording titled Places that included both solo piano and trio compositions. These latter two might be called "concept" albums and are made up entirely of original material.
Outside of the piano solo or trio format, Mehldau collaborated with the innovative film composer, musician, and producer Jon Brion on Largo (released in 2002), classical soprano Renée Fleming (originally commissioned by Carnegie Hall to compose and perform songs for voice and piano) on Love Sublime (Nonesuch, 2006), and recently with jazz guitarist Pat Metheny on the acclaimed Metheny/Mehldau (Nonesuch, 2006).
His first album for Nonesuch, Brad Mehldau Live in Tokyo, was released in September 2004. The label released its first album with the Brad Mehldau Trio (also the first with Jeff Ballard on drums)--Day is Done--in September 2005.
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; recording and concerts with Charlie Haden and Lee Konitz; and recording as a sideman with the likes of Wayne Shorter, John Scofield, and Charles Lloyd. For more than a decade he has collaborated with several musicians whom he respects greatly, including guitarists Peter Bernstein and Kurt Rosenwinkel and tenor saxophonist Mark Turner.
Mehldau 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 Wenders' Million Dollar Hotel. He also composed an original soundtrack for the French film Ma femme est une actrice.
In March 2007 Mehldau debuted the piano concerto The Brady Bunch Variations for Piano and Orchestra at Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris with Orchestre National d'Île de France.