Amazon.com Widgets

Fred Hersch: Alone At The Vanguard (2011)

By Published: | 7,221 views
Fred Hersch: Alone At The Vanguard How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

Creating an album title—Alone At The Vanguard—that reads as a double entendre and an oxymoron—whether intentional or not—is a great achievement, but not nearly as impressive as the music that pianist Fred Hersch presents on this live recording. While the Vanguard in the title is a direct reference to the hallowed basement club in New York City where this album was recorded, Hersch truly holds a rarefied position in the vanguard of the jazz pianist ranks. While he has been known to stroll along a broad array of aural avenues, comfortably moving from musical meditations on the work of Walt Whitman to piano trio explorations to unique encounters with far-reaching artists like Bill Frisell
Bill Frisell
Bill Frisell
b.1951
guitar
and Rene Fleming, his solo piano work might be his greatest strength.

The people at Palmetto had the foresight to record every set during Hersch's week-long run at the end of 2010, but rather than cherry pick a number or two from each set—à la Stan Getz's People Time (Polygram, 1992)—they present a start-to-finish set. While a future Complete Fred Hersch At The Village Vanguard might be a nice thought, it's only wishful thinking for now, and this recording is more than sufficient to satiate the appetite of his fans until that day arrives.

Included within the program are a pair of paeans—"Lee's Dream (Dedicated To Lee Konitz
Lee Konitz
Lee Konitz
b.1927
sax, alto
)" and "Down Home (Dedicated To Bill Frisell), which appeared on Fred Hersch Trio + 2 (Palmetto, 2004); classics from jazz giants (Sonny Rollins
Sonny Rollins
Sonny Rollins
b.1930
saxophone
("Doxy") and Thelonious Monk
Thelonious Monk
Thelonious Monk
1917 - 1982
piano
("Work"); and a bit of Brazilian magic in the form of Bandolim's "Doco de Coco"; but a Frank Sinatra
Frank Sinatra
Frank Sinatra
1915 - 1998
vocalist
standard beats all in terms of emotional impact. Hersch opens the set with a take on "In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning" that conveys a complete and appropriate sense of isolation and bruised masculinity, while also providing hopeful signs for a better tomorrow.

After such an affecting opener, Hersch could really do no wrong, but he doesn't take his performance lightly: instead, he displays musical haughtiness and cheer when saluting Frisell; delights in creating fine narrative arc; toys with a more tempered attack on his nod to Konitz; provides a pearly touch in the upper reaches of the piano; and brings greater dignity and development to the work of Monk than 99.9 percent of the people that peddle his wares.

While Hersch's slowly roaming dissection of "Doxy" ends the program on an understated note, an artist of his caliber doesn't need fireworks to impress at the end of a night. The evolution of his every idea can freeze a smile on the face of his audience, command attention, and leave a room rapt with appreciation and admiration. Alone At The Vanguard is the proof.

Track Listing: In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning; Down Home (dedicated to Bill Frisell); Echoes; Lee's Dream (Dedicated to Lee Konitz); Pastorale (Dedicated to Robert Schumann); Doco de Coco; Memories Of You; Work; Doxy.

Personnel: Fred Hersch: piano.

Record Label: Palmetto Records

Style: Modern Jazz


comments powered by Disqus
Support All About Jazz Through Amazon

Weekly Giveaways

Mark Elf

Mark Elf

About | Enter

Stefano Bollani

Stefano Bollani

About | Enter

Carmen Lundy

Carmen Lundy

About | Enter

Wadada Leo Smith

Wadada Leo Smith

About | Enter

Sponsor: Nonesuch Records | BUY NOW

Enter it twice.
To the weekly jazz events calendar

Enter the numbers in the graphic
Enter the code in this picture

Log in

One moment, you will be redirected shortly.

or search site with Google