Brad Mehldau, described as one of the most lyrical and intimate contemporary jazz pianists of our time, will return to St. Cecilia Music Center on Thursday, November 30 with his Trio. Mehldau who last performed in Grand Rapids at St. Cecilia Music Center in April 2010 makes an encore appearance for St. Cecilia Music Center’s “Encore Jazz Season” celebrating over ten years of some of the finest jazz musicians who have played the venue since their jazz series began. Mehldau will arrive in Grand Rapids following his three-week European tour in Italy, Germany, Netherlands, UK, France, Switzerland, and Austria.
“Brad Mehldau is one of our all-time favorites with his ability to capture you through his intimate jazz expression that takes you on an incredible journey,” says Cathy Holbrook, Executive Director of St. Cecilia Music Center.
Mehldau is especially known for melding musical idioms, in both trio, with Larry Grenadier on bass and Jeff Ballard on drums, and in solo with brilliant re-workings of songs by contemporary songwriters like The Beatles, Cole Porter, Radiohead, Paul Simon, Pink Floyd, Gershwin and Nick Drake. Along with his own significant catalogue of original compositions, he has been described as the “most influential jazz pianist of the last 20 years” (The New York Times)
Cathy Holbrook concludes, “This is going to be a jazz series for the record books at St. Cecilia Music Center! We are bringing back some of our favorites from the first ten years of the series. The excitement begins with Christian McBride and then Brad Mehldau two weeks later. What a perfect way to celebrate this year’s concert season at St. Cecilia Music Center – world-renowned jazz performers in our world-class performance hall.”
Concert tickets are $38 and $43 and can be purchased by calling St. Cecilia Music Center at 616-459-2224 or visiting the box office at 24 Ransom Ave. NE. Tickets can also be purchased online at www.scmc-online.org. A pre-concert reception with wine / hors d’oeuvres is available for $15 and begins at 6:30 pm. A post-concert party with dessert, coffee and wine is open to all ticket-holders. Season tickets for the Encore Jazz Series are still available and include a 15% discount off of single ticket prices for the four concerts that include Christian McBride on November 16, Brad Mehldau on November 30, Gregory Porter on February 22, 2018, and Kurt Elling on March 22, 2018. For Jazz Series Season Tickets call 616-459-2224 or visit St. Cecilia Music Center at 24 Ransom NE, Grand Rapids, 49503, or purchase online at www.scmc-online.org.
Bio: Brad Mehldau
Jazz pianist Brad Mehldau has recorded and performed extensively since the early 1990s. Mehldau’s most consistent output over the years has taken place in the trio format. Starting in 1996, his group released a series of five records on Warner Bros. entitled The Art of the Trio (recently re-packaged and re-released as a 5-Disc box set by Nonesuch in late 2011). During that same period, Mehldau also released a solo piano recording entitled Elegiac Cycle, and a record called Places that included both solo piano and trio songs.
His first record for Nonesuch, Brad Mehldau Live in Tokyo, was released in September 2004. After ten rewarding years with Rossy playing in Mehldau’s regular trio, drummer Jeff Ballard joined the band in 2005. The label released its first album from the Brad Mehldau Trio—Day is Done—on September 27, 2005. An exciting double live trio recording entitled Brad Mehldau Trio Live was released on March 25th, 2008 (Nonesuch) to critical acclaim. On March 16, 2010 Nonesuch released a double-disc of original work entitled Highway Rider, the highly anticipated follow up to Largo. The album was Mehldau’s second collaboration with renowned producer Jon Brion and featured performances by Mehldau’s trio—drummer Jeff Ballard and bassist Larry Grenadier—as well as percussionist Matt Chamberlain, saxophonist Joshua Redman, and a chamber orchestra led by Dan Coleman.
In 2011 Nonesuch released Live in Marciac—a two CD release with a companion DVD of the 2006 performance, and Modern Music, a collaboration between pianists Brad Mehldau and Kevin Hays and composer/arranger Patrick Zimmerli. In 2012 Nonesuch released an album of original songs from the Brad Mehldau Trio—Ode—the first from the trio since 2008’s live Village Vanguard disc and the first studio trio recording since 2005’s Day is Done. Ode went on to garner a Grammy-Nomination. Nonesuch released the Brad Mehldau Trio’s Where Do You Start, a companion disc to the critically acclaimed Ode, in the fall of 2012. Whereas Ode featured 11 songs composed by Mehldau, Where Do You Start comprises the Trio’s interpretations of 10 tunes by other composers, along with one Mehldau original. In 2013 Mehldau produced and performed on Walking Shadows, the acclaimed Nonesuch release from Joshua Redman. 2013 also saw a number of collaborative tours including a duo tour with mandolin virtuoso Chris Thile, piano duets with Kevin Hays and a new electric project with prodigious drummer Mark Guiliana entitled “Mehliana.” Mehliana: Taming the Dragon, the debut release by Mehliana, was released in early 2014.
Mehldau’s monumental and ambitious 10 Years Solo Live eight-LP vinyl box set was released to unanimous critical acclaim on October 16th, 2015 (with CD and digital versions released in November). The set was culled from 19 live recordings made over a decade of the pianist’s European solo concerts and was divided into four thematic subsets of four sides each: Dark/Light, The Concert, Intermezzo/Rückblick, and E Minor/E Major.
In 2016, Nonesuch Records released the Brad Mehldau Trio’s highly-anticipated Blues and Ballads—the ensemble’s first new release since 2012’s Where Do You Start—and the celebrated debut album of the Joshua Redman/Brad Mehldau Duo, Nearness, featuring recordings from their 2011 European tour. Both albums have received universal praise from critics and audiences alike, and both have earned a Grammy nomination for Mehldau. Mandolinist/singer Chris Thile joins Mehldau for their debut release in 2017: Chris Thile & Brad Mehldau.
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.
Mehldau has performed around the world at a steady pace since the mid-1990s, with his trio and as a solo pianist. His performances convey a wide range of expression. There is often an intellectual rigor to the continuous process of abstraction that may take place on a given tune, and a certain density of information. That could be followed by a stripped down, emotionally direct ballad. Mehldau favors juxtaposing extremes. He has attracted a sizeable following over the years, one that has grown to expect a singular, intense experience in his performance.
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 for two years, recordings and concerts with Pat Metheny, Charlie Haden and Lee Konitz, and recording as a sideman with the likes of Michael Brecker, Wayne Shorter, John Scofield, and Charles Lloyd. For more than a decade, he has collaborated with several musicians and peers whom he respects greatly, including the guitarists Peter Bernstein and Kurt Rosenwinkel and tenor saxophonist Mark Turner.
Mehldau also 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 Wender’s Million Dollar Hotel. He also composed an original soundtrack for the French film, Ma Femme Est Une Actrice. Mehldau composed two new works commissioned by Carnegie Hall for voice and piano, The Blue Estuaries and The Book of Hours: Love Poems to God, which were performed in the spring of 2005 with the acclaimed classical soprano, Renee Fleming.
Mehldau was appointed as curator of an annual four-concert jazz series at London’s prestigious Wigmore Hall during its 2009-10 and 2010-11 seasons, with Mehldau appearing in at least two of the four annual concerts. In late January 2010 Carnegie Hall announced the 2010-11 season-long residency by 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).
ADDITIONAL TICKET INFORMATION
Series Subscribers are offered with great benefits including:
- 15-20% discount off single ticket prices
- Reserved parking on concert nights (subject to availability)
- 60% off pre-concert receptions ticket price ($20 pp for three receptions in a series, holding a value of $15 per person/per concert) CMS and Jazz performances only