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This month, WICN highlights the musical career of Brad Mehldau, American Jazz pianist and composer. He has been actively recording albums, performing solo as well as with several well-known artists since the mid-1990s. Mehldau is known as an improviser as well as a student of the formal architecture of music. He incorporates spontaneous musical ideas, strong narrative arches, and traditional structure into each of his performances to create a type of “controlled chaos.”
Mehldau was born in Jacksonville, Florida in 1970, moved to Connecticut and received his first musical training in West Hartford, CT in William H. Hall High School’s prestigious jazz program. While there, he received Berklee College’s Best All around Musician Award. In 1988, Mehldau moved to New York and studied jazz at the New School for Social Research, studying under Fred Hersch, Junior Mance, and Kenny Werner and Jimmy Cobb, who hired Mehldau to play with him. The pianist went on to play as sideman with a variety of musicians, most notably with the Joshua Redman Quartet featuring bassist Christian McBride and drummer Brian Blade. He formed his own Trio in 1994, with bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Jorge Rossy, and later Jeff Ballard, who succeeded Rossy in 2005. In addition to his Trio work, Mehldau collaborated with guitarist Pat Metheny, releasing two albums with him and embarking on a worldwide tour. In 2012, Mehldau joined drummer Mark Guiliana for a synthesizer-oriented duo project called "Mehliana", and launched a tour in 2013, alternating performances with another duo project featuring Chris Thile.
Mehldau’s repertoire includes original compositions, jazz standards, and jazz arrangements of popular rock songs, including those by Nick Drake, The Beatles, Radiohead, and Paul Simon. His music can also be heard in movies such as Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut and Wim Wender’s Million Dollar Hotel. Mehldau composed the original soundtrack for the French film Ma Femme Est Une Actrice as well as two pieces that were commissioned by Carnegie Hall for voice and piano. These pieces were performed in 2005 with acclaimed classical soprano Rene Fleming.
Mehldau was appointed as curator of an annual four-concert jazz series at London's prestigious Wigmore Hall during its 2009-11 seasons, and he appeared at least two of the four annual concerts. In late January 2010 Carnegie Hall announced 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).
Mehldau will be featured at the Opening Night Program of Music Worcester’s 2013-2014 Season on Friday, October 4th at Mechanics Hall in Worcester. He’ll accompany the Grammy Award-Winning Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. The program mixes classical symphonies with Mehldau’s own jazz piano concerto. Performance begins at 8pm. Tickets available at the door, online at musicworcester.org or 508-754-3231.
Nick DiBiasio’s passion for music began on the evening of Sunday, February 9, 1964, when The Beatles made their first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. Against The Grain features Americana music by many local and international artists.
Tune in to the Against The Grain, Wednesday nights from 7-11pm
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