Bradford Alexander Mehldau was born August 23, 1970 in Jacksonville, Florida. His family moved to West Hartford, Connecticut, when he was 10, a move that introduced him to a new piano teacher and classical music an away from playing mostly simple pop tunes and exercises from books. By 14 he was listening more to jazz, including recordings by saxophonist John Coltrane and pianist Oscar Peterson.
Mehldau attended William H. Hall High School, played in its concert jazz band and from the age of 15 until he graduated from high school he had a weekly gig at a local club. He performed at weddings and other parties before winning the Berklee College’s Best All Round Musician Award for school students in his junior year.
Moving to New York City in 1988 he studied jazz and contemporary music at The New School, studied under pianists Fred Hersch, Junior Mance and Kenny Werner and drummer Jimmy Cobb. In 1989 Brad was part of saxophonist Christopher Hollyday’s band that toured for several months and a result assimilated the music of his principle influences Wynton Kelly and McCoy Tyner, and began to develop his own sound. By 20 he was playing in Cobb’s band with fellow student guitarist Peter Bernstein.
During the 1990s Mehldau first recorded on Hollyday’s The Natural Moment and toured of Europe with him, developed his left-hand playing, led his own trio and played at New York’s Village Gate. As a sideman he performed with saxophonist Perico Sambeat on tour and released his debut recordings as co-leader from a May concert in Barcelona, Spain. He went on tour with saxophonist Joshua Redman
Mehldau graduated from The New School in 1993 and formed his first long-term trio in 1994, with bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Jorge Rossy. He recorded his debut as a leader Introducing Brad Mehldau for Warner Brothers. He went on to work with Lee Konitz, Charlie Haden, contribute to the soundtrack recorded for Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, release a compilation of standards on Live at the Village Vanguard: The Art of the Trio Volume Two followed by Songs: The Art of the Trio Volume Three. Not shying away from recording he ultimately has released 33 albums as a leader and has been a sideman on another 61 as well as nie soundtracks. He has performed and recorded with Pat Metheny, Dayna Stevens, Warren Wolf, Michael Brecker, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Joel Frahm, Wayne Shorter, Petra Haden, Vinicius Cantuária, John Patitucci, Charles Lloyd, Fleurine, Willie Nelson, Avishai Cohen, Anthony Wilson, Grant Stewart and Jesse Davis on the short list.
He has won Down Beat’s Readers Poll piano award in 1999, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2007, 2011, and 2012, was the 2006 winner of the Miles Davis Prize, awarded by the Montreal International Jazz Festival, received the Wigmore Medal and has been nominated for seven Grammy Awards. Pianist Brad Mehldau continues to perform, record and tour.
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