All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

4

Fred Hersch Trio: Alive at the Vanguard

Dan McClenaghan By

Sign in to view read count
Pianist Fred Hersch has found a place to come alive: The Village Vanguard, where so many great live albums have been recorded. Saxophonists John Coltrane and Sonny Rollins, pianist Bill Evans and drummer Paul Motian also found the New York City venue a prime spot for live recordings. Hersch revisits the venue with Alive the the Vanguard, following Live at the Village Vanguard (Palmetto Records, 2003), an excellent trio affair with bassist Drew Gress and drummer Nasheet Waits, and Alone at the Vanguard (Palmetto Records, 2011), an extraordinary solo outing.

The "Alive" part of the disc's title may, in part, be a celebration of Hersch's recovery from a life-threatening eight-week coma in 2008; or, perhaps, it is an acknowledgment of his renewed focus and enlivened sense of freedom, the positive outcome of his brush with death. But this certainly is his finest trio outing.

Hersch has found musical soul mates in drummer Eric McPherson and bassist John Hébert, who played in pianist Andrew Hill's last rhythm section. They are players who can set up a fluid flow or pack a prodding punch, and who seem always capable of enhancing Hersch's exquisite sense of melody, beginning with the pianist's gorgeous original opener, "Havana," filled with a feeling of spicy romance and a vibrant momentum.

The two discs of music mix Hersch originals with jazz and Great American Songbook standards. The much-covered "Softly As in a Morning Sunrise" prances with a jaunty insouciance, with Hersch's supple touch on full display, McPherson's whispering brushes, and Hébert putting a bounce in the tune's step.

"Lonely Woman"—surely alto saxophonist Ornette Coleman's most covered tune—gets paired with trumpeter Miles Davis' "Nardis," for a haunting twelve-minute search through the labyrinths of these two masters' melodies, while Sonny Rollins' "Doxy" gets a playful and easy swing treatment.

Either one of these two discs could have served as another superb Fred Hersch trio recording, but what's offered up is a nicely sequenced document of a two-set evening (one per disc) Set two opens with Hersch's aptly named "Opener," which he wrote for McPherson. Hersch teases the pretty melody out of the keys with adept delicacy, as Hébert and McPherson provide a sizzling rhythm that gives way to an orchestral drum solo—snares, cymbals and bass drum telling a tale with a controlled clamor.

"I Fall in Love Too Easily" speaks in soft tones to wistful, perhaps unrequited romance, while Hersch's "Sartorial" is nod to Coleman and the free jazz legend's habit of decking himself out in very cool, oddball resplendence.

Closing with the familiar "The Song Is You," paired with pianist Thelonious Monk's "Played Twice" places longing side-by-side with Monk's playful quirkiness for a superb wrap-up to a great night of music.

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: bass; Eric McPherson: drums.

Title: Alive at the Vanguard | Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: Palmetto Records

Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

Shop Music & Tickets

Click any of the store links below and you'll support All About Jazz in the process. Learn how.

Whirl

Whirl

Fred Hersch
Fred Hersch Solo

West Virginia Rose / Home Fries

West Virginia Rose / Home Fries

Fred Hersch
Floating

CD/LP/Track Review
Multiple Reviews
CD/LP/Track Review
In Pictures
CD/LP/Track Review
Interviews
Live Reviews
Read more articles
Live In Europe

Live In Europe

Palmetto Records
2018

buy
Fred Hersch Trio '97 @ The Village Vanguard

Fred Hersch Trio '97...

Palmetto Records
2018

buy
Fred Hersch Trio: Live in Europe

Fred Hersch Trio:...

Palmetto Records
2018

buy
Open Book

Open Book

Palmetto Records
2017

buy
Sunday Night at the Vanguard

Sunday Night at the...

Palmetto Records
2016

buy
Sarabande

Sarabande

Sunnyside Records
2016

buy

Related Articles

Read Out in the Open CD/LP/Track Review
Out in the Open
by Jack Bowers
Published: November 16, 2018
Read Contemporary Chaos Practices CD/LP/Track Review
Contemporary Chaos Practices
by Don Phipps
Published: November 16, 2018
Read Changed Beings CD/LP/Track Review
Changed Beings
by Chris May
Published: November 16, 2018
Read We Must Mustn't We CD/LP/Track Review
We Must Mustn't We
by John Sharpe
Published: November 16, 2018
Read Two Infinitudes; The One You "see" and the One That Is You. CD/LP/Track Review
Two Infinitudes; The One You "see" and the One...
by Glenn Astarita
Published: November 16, 2018
Read Always Forward CD/LP/Track Review
Always Forward
by Jack Bowers
Published: November 15, 2018
Read "We Are the Orchestra" CD/LP/Track Review We Are the Orchestra
by James Fleming
Published: October 14, 2018
Read "The Pocket Philharmonic Orchestra, Peter Stangel – Beethoven Revisited Symphonies 1-9" CD/LP/Track Review The Pocket Philharmonic Orchestra, Peter Stangel –...
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: March 24, 2018
Read "First Lines" CD/LP/Track Review First Lines
by James Fleming
Published: October 26, 2018
Read "Solo" CD/LP/Track Review Solo
by Mark Corroto
Published: January 11, 2018
Read "Still Dreaming" CD/LP/Track Review Still Dreaming
by Geannine Reid
Published: June 24, 2018
Read "Doors" CD/LP/Track Review Doors
by John Eyles
Published: April 4, 2018