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Fred Hersch: No Limits

By Published: September 28, 2009

Jobim and Dream Projects

AAJ: You've said that your album, Fred Hersch Plays Jobim (Sunnyside, 2009) is a good album, but not the essential one for a new listener to your work. If you had to recommend the "definitive" Fred Hersch album what comes to mind?

Fred HerschThat's tough. I think one of the live solo albums like Live at the Bimhuis or Let Yourself Go: Live at Jordan Hall (Nonesuch, 1999). I think they tell you a lot about who I am as a musician. Something like Leaves Of Grass will tell you about who I am as a composer/conceptualist. It's so hard to pick—they are like your children.

It is not that I would say the Jobim album is not a good place to start, it's just that it is very specific. I am playing music that has a very specific theme to it. The Jobim is definitely a jazz record, but it isn't a hardcore jazz record. It is a personal tribute to somebody who I think is just incredibly great.

With all of these sort of song book projects, sometimes the hard thing is deciding which things you want to do and then finding your own personality within them. They are time consuming, and you have to dig deep. With this one, the Jobim was recorded at the same time as the Songs Without Words (Nonesuch, 2002) box set and was to be the fourth disc for that set. We decided the three discs together made better sense on many levels and we just left it at three discs. This just sat in the vault, and then Bob Hurwitz at Nonesuch just out the blue said, "Do you want to do something with this? It is just kind of sitting here." So I listened to it again and said, "Yes I would."

AAJ: Do you have any as yet unrealized dream project?

FH: Certainly there are people I would love to get a chance to play with, like Sonny Rollins

Sonny Rollins
Sonny Rollins
. I am not sure what else to say.

I can't think of any kind of burning thing that I have to do that I haven't done.

Selected Discography

Fred Hersch, Fred Hersch Plays Jobim (Sunnyside, 2009)

Fred Hersch Pocket Orchestra, Live at Jazz Standard (Sunnyside, 2009)

Fred Hersch,
Night and the Music (Palmetto, 2007)

Nancy King, Live at Jazz Standard with Fred Hersch (MAZJAZZ, 2006)

Fred Hersch, Live at the Bimhuis (Palmetto, 2005)

Fred Hersch, Leaves of Grass (Palmetto, 2005)

Fred Hersch/Norma Winstone, Songs and Lullabies (Sunnyside, 2003)

Fred Hersch, Live at the Village Vanguard (Palmetto, 2003)

Fred Hersch, Songs without Words (Nonesuch, 2002)

Fred Hersch, Focus (Palmetto. 2000)

Fred Hersch, Let Yourself Go: Live at Jordan Hall (Nonesuch, 1999)

Fred Hersch/Bill Frisell, Songs We Know (Nonesuch, 1998)

Fred Hersch, Thirteen Ways (Palmetto, 1997)

Fred Hersch, The Duo Album (Classical Action, 1997)

Fred Hersch, Thelonious: Fred Hersch Plays Monk (Nonesuch, 1997)

Fred Hersch, Plays Rodgers & Hammerstein (Nonesuch, 1996)

Fred Hersch, Passion Flower (Nonesuch, 1996)

Fred Hersch, Plays Billy Strayhorn (Nonesuch, 1995)

Fred Hersch, I Never Told You: Fred Hersch Plays Johnny Mandel (Varese Sarabande, 1994)

Fred Hersch, The Fred Hersch Trio Plays (Chesky, 1994)

Fred Hersch, Forward Motion (Chesky, 1991)

Fred Hersch, Evanessence: A Tribute to Bill Evans (Evidence, 1990)

Fred Hersch, Heartsongs (Sunnyside,1989)

Fred Hersch, Sarabande (Sunnyside, 1986)

Fred Hersch, Horizons (Concord Jazz, 1984)

Photo Credits

Page 1: Guy Van de Poel

Page 2, 4: Cees van de Ven

Page 3: Matthew Sussman, courtesy of Fred Hersch

Page 5: Jimmy Katz, courtesy of Fred Hersch

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