Support All About Jazz

All About Jazz needs your help and we have a deal. Pay $20 and we'll hide those six pesky Google ads that appear on every page, plus this box and the slideout box on the right for a full year! You'll also fund website expansion.


I want to help
126

Fred Hersch: Alone at the Vanguard

Raul d'Gama Rose By

Sign in to view read count Views
Fred Hersch: Alone at the Vanguard The beauty of subtle emotion and the glacial calm of Fred Hersch's pianism are so arresting and so captivating that it virtually stops the breath. His mastery of the instrument, coupled with a deep and soulful connection with the joy of music gives Hersch the unique power to both entertain as well as heal the mind with utmost spirituality. This is so rare a phenomenon among musicians that only a handful of them in recent times—perhaps John Coltrane and Bobby McFerrin—may have succeeded in connecting the dots between body and soul. The spiritualism of his playing apart, Hersch has flawless technique and expresses himself with nuanced brilliance, unfurling strings of phrases and musical sentences like bejeweled artifacts that come alive at his fingertips, seductively swirling around the room.

Alone at the Vanguard is a stunning album that unravels from one gem of a song to another. It confirms the belief that Hersch is uniquely qualified to play solo. Like Thelonious Monk, Bill Evans, Keith Jarrett, Don Pullen, Jaki Byard, Cecil Taylor and a handful of other pianists, Hersch holds sway from the get go—in this case, from the time his fingers elicit playful responses during the first bars of "In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning." Hersch plays to no pattern. His mind is a hotbed of ideas and they flow like mountainous streams, gathering in force and muscularity as they tumble down the terrain of the song. After stating the terms of the melody in his own voice, Hersch is off on an adventurous gambol along the inner, secret garden of the song. He is apt to discover a topography of new and rapturous beauty. His masterful dedication to Lee Konitz, "Lee's Dream," unfolds like an ocean of imaginary beings that interact to sing a song of exceeding beauty. His version of Robert Schumann's "Pastorale" is a veritable journey of discovery—both about its composer and his inspiration—complete with awe-inspiring dramatic twists and turns.

Hersch has a fine sense of his place in the history of his art as well. Not only does he appear to owe a debt to late Romantics, such as Schumann, but he also finds himself following the great tradition of bebop including Thelonious Monk and late boppers such as Sonny Rollins. This is not only evident from his choice of repertoire for the date, but his examining of the deep-set rhythms as well as the emotions of that music. The pianist's "Echoes" swings and swaggers with the polyrhythms that characterized this creation of the high art of the Afro-American pantheon presided over by someone like Monk. Thus, Hersch is able to produce this solo work of remarkable beauty and relevance.


Track Listing: In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning; Down Home; Echoes; Lee's Dream; Pastorale; Doce de Coco; Memories of You; Work; Doxy.

Personnel: Fred Hersch: piano.

Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: Palmetto Records | Style: Modern Jazz


Shop For Jazz

CD/LP/Track Review
Live Reviews
CD/LP/Track Review
  • Solo by Dan McClenaghan
  • Solo by Mark Sullivan
Read more articles
Sundat Night At The Vanguard
Sundat Night At The...
Palmetto Records
2016
buy
Sunday Night At The Village Vanguard
Sunday Night At The...
Palmetto Records
2016
buy
Sarabande
Sarabande
Sunnyside Records
2016
buy
Solo
Solo
Palmetto Records
2015
buy
Fred Hersch Solo
Fred Hersch Solo
Palmetto Records
2015
buy
Floating
Floating
Palmetto Records
2015
buy

Fred Hersch Events

Date Event Time Tickets
Apr8Fri Fred Hersch
Spivey Hall
Morrow, GA
7:30 PM
$40.00

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.