Piano Jazz Session - Brad Meldhau
Music 1 July 2021 – 8:30pm
Piano Jazz Session
Mehldau has performed around the world at a steady pace since the mid-1990s, with his trio and as a solo pianist. Mehldau’s musical personality forms a dichotomy. He is first and foremost an improviser, and greatly cherishes the surprise and wonder that can occur from a spontaneous musical idea that is expressed directly, in real time.
But he also has a deep fascination for the formal architecture of music, and it informs 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. Each tune has a strongly felt narrative arch, whether it expresses itself in a beginning, an end, or something left intentionally open-ended. 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.
Jazz pianist Brad Mehldau has been performing as a recitalist and with his trio since the early 1990s. He has a dichotomous musical personality, with one side being the improviser, a master of surprise and delight, the other being an artist fascinated by formal musical constructions. His grasp of structured musical thought therefore shapes his spontaneous expressions. These two aspects of Brad Mehldau’s personality coalesce and clash, resulting in something resembling organised chaos.
In addition to his trio and solo efforts, Mr Mehldau works with many jazz musicians, such as Pat Metheny, Charlie Haden, Lee Konitz, Michael Brecker, Wayne Shorter, John Scofield and Charles Lloyd. For more than ten years, he has collaborated with personalities he has always admired, like guitarists Peter Bernstein and Kurt Rosenwinkel and saxophonist Mark Turner.
Outside the jazz realm, Mr Mehldau has made various recordings, including Teatro by Willie Nelson and Scar by singer-songwriter Joe Henry. His talent can be heard in movie soundtracks (Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut, Wim Wenders's The Million Dollar Hotel). He also composed the soundtrack to the 2001 French film Ma femme est une actrice, directed by Yvan Attal. Further, New York City’s Carnegie Hall commissioned several works for piano and voice from him, drawing on texts from Louise Bogan’s “The Blue Estuaries” and Rainer Maria Rilke’s “The Book of Hours: Love Poems to God”. These pieces, recorded with soprano Renée Fleming, were compiled to form the album Love Sublime in 2006 and, that same year, Nonesuch released the Brad Mehldau Trio’s House on Hill, a record featuring his jazz compositions for trio. In 2008, Carnegie Hall commissioned him to produce a cycle of seven love songs for Swedish mezzo-soprano Anne Sofie von Otter, which resulted in the double album Love Songs, released by Naïve in 2010, featuring this cycle combined with a selection of French, American, English and Swedish vocal pieces. The work received extensive critical acclaim. In 2013, Mr Mehldau premiered Variations on a Melancholy Theme, an orchestral piece he performed with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra and the Britten Sinfonia.
During the 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 seasons, Brad Mehldau was the Artist in Residence at Wigmore Hall in London, organising jazz concert series. He holds the Richard and Barbara Debs Composer’s Chair at Carnegie Hall, the first jazz artist to hold the position since it was created in 1995. His predecessors include Louis Andriessen, Elliott Carter and John Adams.