Brad Mehldau: Biography
Brad Mehldau was born in 1970 in Florida. His family moved to Connecticut where Mehldau spent most of
his childhood and high school. While a sophomore in high school, he won Berklee College's Best All-Around
Musician Award. Mehldau moved to New York in 1988 to study jazz at The New School, studying under
Fred Hersch, Junior Mance and Kenny Werner, and also playing with Jimmy Cobb.
He went on to play as sideman with a variety of musicians, most importantly with the Joshua Redman
quartet, before forming 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 along with
Grenadier and Ballard.
Recording primarily for Nonesuch Records, Mehldau plays original compositions, jazz standards and jazz
arrangements of popular music, especially rock music. With his trio, he has recorded arrangements of the
music of Nick Drake, The Beatles, Radiohead and Paul Simon among others, and recorded Soundgarden's
"Black Hole Sun" on his 2006 album, Live.
Mehldau has also expressed an interest in and knowledge of philosophy, in particular of music and art. He
has played and recorded solo and with co-leaders Peter Bernstein, Mark Turner, Charlie Haden, Charles
Lloyd, Pat Metheny and others. In 2004, Mehldau toured with Kurt Rosenwinkel and Joshua Redman.
He cites as influences Larry Goldings, Kevin Hays, Peter Bernstein, Mark Turner, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Jesse
Davis, David Sanchez and the other members of his own trio. His classical training shows, and he often
plays a separate melody with each hand in unusual rhythmic meters. For example, he plays his
arrangement of Jerome Kern's standard "All the Things You Are" on Art of the Trio, Vol. IV in A major (a half-
step up from the original key, A-flat major) played in 7/4 time. On Day Is Done, he also plays Paul Simon's
"50 Ways To Leave Your Lover" in 7/4. Another of Mehldau's signature techniques is to create an ostinato
in his right hand whilst developing a motivic idea in his left hand.
Mehldau cherishes Brazilian music, citing Milton Nascimento, Chico Buarque and Simone. In 2006 he
appeared at the Auditório do Ibirapuera in São Paulo and declared: "I only met Simone's work last year and
it was like meeting Sarah Vaughan or Dinah Washington. She has a strong identity and sings with a lot of
passion and grace".
Mehldau is married to Dutch jazz vocalist Fleurine, with whom he has recorded and toured extensively. He
speaks fluent Dutch.