He 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 has led a trio since the early 1990s. The first long-term trio featured bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Jorge Rossy; in 2005 Jeff Ballard replaced Rossy.
Mehldau has also performed with many renowned artists, including Joshua Redman, Charles Lloyd, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Pat Metheny, Wayne Shorter, Peter Bernstein, Christian McBride, Michael Brecker, Chris Potter, Brian Blade, Jimmy Cobb, classical vocalists Renée Fleming and Anne Sofie von Otter, and singer-songwriters Chris Thile, John Mayer and Elliott Smith.
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