Mehldau studied music at The New School from 1988, appearing in teacher Jimmy Cobb's band and touring and recording with saxophonist Christopher Hollyday while still a student. Mehldau was a member of saxophonist Joshua Redman's high profile band in 1993–94, and has led his own trio since the early 1990s. His first long-term trio featured bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Jorge Rossy; in 2005 Jeff Ballard replaced Rossy. These bands have released a dozen albums under the pianist's name.
From the early 2000s Mehldau branched out from trio and solo piano playing. A 2002 album, Largo, contained electronics and direct input from rock and classical musicians; later examples include touring and recording with guitarist Pat Metheny, writing and playing song cycles for classical singers Renée Fleming and Anne Sofie von Otter, composing orchestral pieces, and playing electronic keyboard instruments in a duo with drummer Mark Guiliana.
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