was one among a plethora of young jazz pianists who rose to prominence. He is one of the more absorbing and thoughtful practitioners within that idiom, and he is receptive to the idea of using material from the rock era (
's "Blackbird," for example). Though
's training is primarily classical, his interest in jazz began early. He played in the Hall High School jazz band of Hartford, Connecticut, winning the Berklee College of Music's Best All-Around Musician Award while still in his junior year of high school. He studied jazz at New York's New School for Social Research under
before forming his own trio in 1994 and recording his first Warner Bros. album,
, in 1995.
followed in 1997, with the next two volumes in the series appearing over the following months. Two years later,
followed in 2000, consisting of all-original compositions focusing on various cities, hence the title of the album.
Another Art of the Trio
album came out in 2001, but the most significant release was Largo
, which recorded Mehldau
performing with other groups outside of his usual trio format. This was a big change from his previous work, and offered new challenges as he adapted to several interesting lineup situations. Mehldau
followed the genre-bending album with the standards-based Anything Goes
and Live in Tokyo
in 2004, with Day Is Done
arriving the following year. In 2006, he released House on Hill
as well as Love Sublime
, the latter with soprano vocalist Renée Fleming
on Nonesuch Records. Mehldau
chose to work with his trio plus Pat Metheny
in 2007; he followed it up with with the double-disc Live
in 2008, which was recorded with his trio at the Village Vanguard.
In 2010, Mehldau
emerged with the ambitious Highway Rider
, a double-disc of 15 new compositions produced by Jon Brion
. He employed his trio as well as drummer Matt Chamberlain
, saxophonist Joshua Redman
, and a small chamber orchestra led by Dan Coleman
arranged and orchestrated all the music. Also in 2010, Mehldau
was honored by Carnegie Hall when he was named the first jazz artist to hold the Richard and Barbara Debs Composer’s Chair for the 2010-2011 season. In 2011, Mehldau
appeared on two live albums, his own Live in Marciac and the ECM date Live at Birdland (recorded in 2009) with saxophonist Lee Konitz, bassist Charlie Haden, and drummer Paul Motian. In September of that year, Nonesuch also released a studio album, Modern Music, a collaboration between Mehldau
, pianist Kevin Hays, and composer/arranger Patrick Zimmerli. The music on this set was comprised of tunes by each of the principals, as well as compositions by Ornette Coleman, Steve Reich, and Philip Glass.
On December 6, 2011, while Mehldau
was at the beginning of a world tour, Nonesuch issued a box set entitled Art of the Trio Recordings: 1996–2001. The set includes the five Art of the Trio
albums -- the last a double-disc -- that were originally issued on Warner Bros. The box also included a seventh disc of previously unreleased material from shows at the Village Vanguard in 1997, 1999, and 2001. In 2012, Mehldau
's Trio released two studio albums with the all-original Ode, and the companion collection of cover songs, Where Do You Start. In 2013, he and drummer/electronicist Mark Guiliana collaborated for the performing and recording duo "Mehliana"; their debut offering, Taming the Dragon, appeared through Nonesuch in February of 2014. The box set 10 Years Solo Live appeared in 2015 and featured solo performances Mehldau
had given in Europe in the preceding decade. 2016 saw a return to his tried-and-tested trio of Larry Grenadier and Jeff Ballard for Blues and Ballads, an album which featured their meticulous collective touch on compositions by Cole Porter, Charlie Parker, and Lennon/McCartney, with the focus very much on, as per the title, Blues and Ballads.