APPLETON, WIS. — Grammy-nominated jazz pianist Brad Mehldau and his trio close out the 2008-09 Lawrence University Jazz Series Saturday, May 2 with an 8 p.m. concert in the Lawrence Memorial Chapel, 510 E. College Ave., Appleton.
Tickets, at $20-22 for adults, $17-19 for seniors and $15-17 for students, are available through the Lawrence Box Office, 920-832-6749.
A fixture on the national and international jazz scenes since the mid-1990s, Mehldau’s singularly intense performances and his innovative improvisation skills led London’s The Guardian to hail him as “the doyen of contemporary jazz pianists.”
With bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Jeff Ballard, the Brad Mehldau Trio earned a 2009 Grammy best jazz instrumental album nomination for their release “Brad Mehldau Trio: Live.” The disc develops and improvises on jazz classics like John Coltrane’s “Countdown,” but also delves into 1990s pop music with Oasis’s “Wonderwall” and Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun,” which Mehldau transforms into a 20-minute-long sonic experience.
“Brad Mehldau is the next logical step in jazz piano after the heyday of Chick Corea, Keith Jarrett and Herbie Hancock,” said Lee Tomboulian, who teaches jazz improvisation and applied jazz piano at Lawrence. “His unbelievable technique serves a gigantic conception, that mixes contrapuntal lines, unusual voicings and extreme rhythmic vigor into a swirling vortex of originality.
“To miss Mehldau at our doorstep would be like living in England during Shakepeare’s time and forgetting to go to the Globe Theater until after it had closed,” he added.
A Grammy nominee in 1997 for “Art of the Trio” in the jazz instrumental solo category, Melhdau began his early musical training as a classical pianist and those influences remain evident in his work today.
In addition to his trio and solo ventures, Mehldau has collaborated with jazz greats Joshua Redman, Pat Metheny, Charlie Haden, Wayne Shorter, John Scofield and the late Michael Brecker, among others. He also has ventured outside the jazz realm for projects with popular musicians Willie Nelson and Jon Brion and his music has appeared in several films, among them Stanley Kubrick’s “Eyes Wide Shut.”
Since his 1995 Warner Records debut album “Introducing Brad Mehldau,” his discography has grown to nearly 40 releases as a solo pianist, with his trio and as a sideman.