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The Brad Mehldau Trio has an excellent new album, “Blues and Ballads,” coming out June 3, but only played one song from it Friday. Instead, its show at Berklee Performance Center demonstrated the assorted strengths that ranks the group among the tiny handful of elite trios routinely booked at concert halls rather than jazz clubs.

Renowned for freewheeling yet respectful interpretations of other composers’ work, the trio started its set with three fresh originals. “Solid Jackson” was a blues named for a catchphrase of dedicatee Charlie Haden, with whom Mehldau had collaborated; “Strange Gift” had bassist Larry Grenadier weaving a melody with Mehldau’s piano and Jeff Ballard playing his drums with his bare hands as much as with his mallets and sticks. A third piece was so new it hadn’t acquired a title, but memorably found Mehldau turned to face his colleagues, his right hand resting on his thigh while his left casually repeated a bass figure over and over, while Grenadier and Ballard took turns soloing.


The trio detoured to Brazil for the night’s first cover, “Valsa Brasileira,” a song with lyrics by Chico Buarque — “don’t worry,” Mehldau reassured the crowd, “I’m not going to sing” — and music by Edu Lobo. Three wide-ranging American Songbook selections rounded out the set: a delectable take on Cole Porter’s “I Concentrate on You” (from the new album, and, said Mehldau, in response to a frequent request from his mother: “Play more ballads, Brad”), a rapid-fire run through Charlie Parker’s “Crazyology,” and Sidney Bechet’s wistful “Si tu vois ma mère” (“If you see my mother”).

Grenadier played melody and took a resplendent solo on “Valsa Brasileira,” propelled “Solid Jackson” with energetic walking bass, and generally kept things anchored. Ballard was ceaselessly inventive, and kicked off “Crazyology” at warp speed on cymbals before taking his flashiest solo. Mehldau also took a couple of jaw-dropping tears through the “Crazyology” head, and otherwise flashed facets of his renowned pianism: crystalline touch, deep lyricism, harmonic sophistication, adroit use of space, and the otherworldly independence of his right and left hands.


He opened the encore to audience requests, settling on Nick Drake’s “River Man” because this version of his trio hadn’t played it before. (Ballard joined midway through its 22-year history, replacing Jorge Rossy in 2005.) And thus, almost as an afterthought, the evening ended with yet another celebrated Mehldau specialty: the successful coupling of post-Beatles pop tunes and jazz improvisation.


Presented by World Music/CRASHarts. At Berklee Performance Center, April 15

Bill Beuttler can be reached at bill@billbeuttler.com.