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Fred Hersch Trio: Alive At The Vanguard (2012)

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Fred Hersch Trio: Alive At The Vanguard Pianist Fred Hersch's Alone at the Vanguard (Palmetto) was chosen by many as one of 2011's best, and rightfully so.

Now, following up that solo album, is Alive at the Vanguard, a double album which finds the pianist with his current trio. Playing together since 2010, Hersch has settled in comfortably with bassist John Hébert and drummer Eric McPherson, veteran musicians of estimable talent who both can drive hardily and swing delicately. This recording puts the three on a par with the great Bill Evans
Bill Evans
Bill Evans
1929 - 1980
piano
and his small groups.

Reviewing the trio at the Vanguard the week of the live recording, The New York Times' Nate Chinen referred to the group's confidence and "stronger sense of itself." The Times had earlier hailed Hersch, and put him alongside current piano greats Brad Mehldau
Brad Mehldau
Brad Mehldau
b.1970
piano
, Jason Moran
Jason Moran
Jason Moran
b.1975
piano
and Vijay Iyer
Vijay Iyer
Vijay Iyer
b.1971
piano
. The newspaper called them "trailblazers of a borderless, individualistic jazz—a jazz for the 21st century."

Alive at the Vanguard features seven Hersch originals, four American Songbook mainstays and seven classic jazz tunes. A wide range of music for lots of listening pleasure.

The album opens with Hersch's "Havana," with its infectious Latin beat—perhaps a nod to Chick Corea
Chick Corea
Chick Corea
b.1941
piano
. The inventive McPherson features brushes, traps and claves on his kit, building to a strong finish.

In a very effective medley, Ornette Coleman
Ornette Coleman
Ornette Coleman
b.1930
sax, alto
's "Lonely Woman" begins with haunting drum beats, backing ominous chords, suggesting profound isolation; this heavy atmosphere vaporizes into the otherworldly essence of trumpeter Miles Davis
Miles Davis
Miles Davis
1926 - 1991
trumpet
' "Nardis." The bass comes in to solo, underlining this midnight experience.

On the CD, Hersch displays two approaches to standards—both exhibiting his improvisational skills. "Softly As In A Morning Sunrise," the old Romberg/ Hammerstein favorite, begins softly as Hersch adheres closely to the tune; midway he ups the speed and the arrangement becomes seemingly extemporaneous. On Cole Porter
Cole Porter
Cole Porter
1891 - 1964
composer/conductor
's "From This Moment On," Hersch sidles close to the melody but purposely avoids it. At the end he lushly embraces it.

In the cover notes, Hersch indicates he was greatly influenced by Sonny Rollins
Sonny Rollins
Sonny Rollins
b.1930
saxophone
. Here, he plays a delicate, bluesy rendition of the saxophonist's classic "Doxy," with a Fats Waller
Fats Waller
Fats Waller
1904 - 1943
piano
touch at the end.

The last number, a medley, creates a whiplash effect. Hammerstein/Kern's "The Song Is You" flows slowly and sensually, piano wed with the impeccable rhythm section. Then, on with a flourish, comes Thelonious Monk
Thelonious Monk
Thelonious Monk
1917 - 1982
piano
's complicated "Played Twice," drums at full throttle. All ends on a good high.

This is a generous album in content and spirit, from three players who really have got it right.


Track Listing: CD1: Havana; Tristesse; Segment; Lonely Woman/Nardis; Dream of Monk; Rising, Falling; Softly, As in a Morning Sunrise; Doxy. CD2: Opener; I Fall in Love Too Easily; Jackalope; The Wind/Moon and Sand; Sartorial; From This Moment On; The Song Is You/Played Twice.

Personnel: Fred Hersch: piano; John Hébert: basss; Eric McPherson: bass.

Record Label: Palmetto Records

Style: Modern Jazz


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