All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

225

Fred Hersch: Alone At The Vanguard

Dan Bilawsky By

Sign in to view read count
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 and Renee 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)" and "Down Home (Dedicated To Bill Frisell), which appeared on Fred Hersch Trio + 2 (Palmetto, 2004); classics from jazz giants Sonny Rollins ("Doxy") and Thelonious Monk ("Work"); and a bit of Brazilian magic in the form of Bandolim's "Doco de Coco"; but a Frank Sinatra 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.

Title: Alone at the Vanguard | Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: Palmetto Records

Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read Live CD/LP/Track Review
Live
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: April 21, 2018
Read Humanities CD/LP/Track Review
Humanities
by David A. Orthmann
Published: April 21, 2018
Read Wild Is The Wind CD/LP/Track Review
Wild Is The Wind
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: April 21, 2018
Read Fairytales CD/LP/Track Review
Fairytales
by Gareth Thompson
Published: April 21, 2018
Read Origins CD/LP/Track Review
Origins
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 20, 2018
Read Bright Force CD/LP/Track Review
Bright Force
by Karl Ackermann
Published: April 20, 2018
Read "Just Funkin' Around" CD/LP/Track Review Just Funkin' Around
by Jeff Winbush
Published: August 5, 2017
Read "9" CD/LP/Track Review 9
by Mark Sullivan
Published: February 19, 2018
Read "Anti-Hero" CD/LP/Track Review Anti-Hero
by Mike Jacobs
Published: September 1, 2017
Read "Leon" CD/LP/Track Review Leon
by Glenn Astarita
Published: July 11, 2017
Read "Sing House" CD/LP/Track Review Sing House
by Jerry D'Souza
Published: October 2, 2017
Read "Apocalypse Live" CD/LP/Track Review Apocalypse Live
by Martin Longley
Published: July 13, 2017