How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
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
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
' "Nardis." The bass comes in to solo, underlining this midnight experience.
On the CD, Hersch displays two approaches to standardsboth 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
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
'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.