Brad Mehldau’s "Art of the Trio" Box Set Out Now; Includes Original Records, Unreleased Material
Today marks the release of Brad Mehldau’s seven-disc box set The Art of the Trio Recordings: 1996–2001. The set includes the five original Art of the Trio albums (the fifth volume includes two CDs), released on Warner Bros. over a prolific four year period from 1997 to 2001; a seventh disc of previously unreleased material from shows at the Village Vanguard in 1997, 1999, and 2001 completes the box. These recordings feature Mehldau’s longtime trio with bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Jorge Rossy. Repertoire includes interpretations of standard tunes and modern classics as well as many original compositions. New liner notes by Bad Plus pianist Ethan Iverson include interviews with all three trio members.
You can pick up a copy of the Art of the Trio Recordings box set in the Nonesuch Store, where all CDs are now 34% off standard retail price—bringing the seven-CD box set to just $29.69 for the holidays—as part of the Nonesuch Store's fourth anniversary sale.
All About Jazz recently gave an extensive analysis of the new box set. "As an essential document of jazz in the late 1990s," writes All About Jazz's John Kelman, it explains "how Mehldau so quickly became one of his generation's most influential pianists ... [R]eissues like The Art of the Trio: Recordings 1996–2001 make abundantly clear that, when the history book of the latter part of the 20th century/early part of the new millennium is written, Mehldau will, no doubt, take a well-deserved place alongside predecessors such as Bill Evans, Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock and Keith Jarrett as one of the most important pianists of any generation."
Brad Mehldau moved to New York City from his native Connecticut in 1988, studying at the New School and playing in a number of different combos—including a stint in Joshua Redman’s quartet—before becoming a bandleader himself. His trio toured the globe extensively for 10 years and also made eight acclaimed recordings, including the five widely praised Art of the Trio albums. (Additionally, Grenadier and Rossy play on the pianist’s Introducing Brad Mehldau and Largo.) In his liner note, Ethan Iverson says: “Brad Mehldau, Larry Grenadier, and Jorge Rossy made up the most significant new piano/bass/drums trio of the 1990s … the music in this box is original. It could only be made by this group.”
Jorge Rossy grew up in Spain, moving to Boston in 1989 to study drums at the Berklee School. Steady work with Danilo Perez and Paquito D’Rivera enabled him to move to New York after three semesters. When saxophonist Perico Sambeat asked Rossy and his bassist brother Mario to join him on tour, Mario suggested his New School classmate Brad Mehldau join them. “I went to hear Brad the night before we flew to Madrid in 1991. It was Jimmy Cobb’s group with John Webber, Peter Bernstein, and Brad,” Rossy tells Iverson. “I thought ... 'I am in a different space musically.’ Then, at the first gig, Brad came into my territory. The slightest nuance was understood. A very fast, clear, uncluttered connection.” Rossy left the Trio in 2004 to spend more in Spain and to pursue other musical outlets—including playing piano, composing, and arranging. Mehldau said at the time: “Jorge and I have what I can only describe as a tremendous musical relationship and a great friendship as well.” (Jeff Ballard has played drums in the Trio for the past seven years.)
Larry Grenadier grew up in the San Francisco area and studied literature at Stanford University before also moving to Boston, to play with Gary Burton. He arrived in New York in 1991 and played with many of his peers, including Chris Cheek, Joshua Redman, Kurt Rosenwinkel, and Mark Turner (with whom he and Ballard currently play in the collective FLY). When Grenadier first sat in with Mehldau and Rossy at the Village Gate, Rossy says: “It was obvious… Larry was in the band from that moment. (He) had perfect time, intonation, and tons of personality.” Grenadier was similarly hooked from that first gig. “Wow, here is music that leaves space for the bass…to be heard as one of three voices,” he recalls thinking. “Brad’s got the biggest elephant ears of any musician I know. Nothing gets past him. Almost 20 years later I’m still amazed by this. Same for Jorge.”
Mehldau’s other two Nonesuch releases this year have showcased other facets of his fruitful, ever-evolving career as it enters its second decade: his live solo performances Live in Marciac) and his collaborations with genre-crossing musicians (Modern Music, with composer/pianist Kevin Hays and composer/arranger Patrick Zimmerli). The Brad Mehldau Trio returns to the Village Vanguard in January. For more information, go to nonesuch.com/on-tour.
To pick up a copy of The Art of the Trio Recordings or any of the albums in the Brad Mehldau Nonesuch catalog, now 34% off SRP, head to the Nonesuch Store now.