287

Fred Hersch Trio + 2: New York City, March 5, 2011

Victor L. Schermer By

Sign in to view read count
Fred Hersch Trio + 2
Jazz Standard,
New York CIty, NY
March 5, 2011

Fred Hersch is one of today's most prominent jazz pianists, extending the limits of the jazz idiom with rare finesse and a sense of meaning and implication in every note he plays. This was one of five consecutive evenings featuring Hersch at New York's Jazz Standard, each with different personnel—itself, a creative variance from traditional series, featuring the same group. On this and the next night, Hersch was complemented by bassist John Hébert and drummer Billy Drummond—his regular trio—along with Palmetto recording artist Noah Preminger on tenor saxophone and Ralph Alessi, a not infrequent partner, on trumpet and cornet. The set included several Hersch originals such as "Days Gone By," "Swamp Thing," and "Dream of Monk," but also included Wayne Shorter's "Fall" and Thelonious Monk's "I Mean You." While staying within straight-ahead parameters, the music extended well into the spaces evolved by Shorter, Monk, and late-'60s Miles Davis, with a foray into Ornette Coleman's free jazz harmolodics. The competence and resilience of the group merited its audience's enthusiastic response.

Hersch was the center of attention on his opening number, the balladic "Days Gone By." It was striking to watch and hear him playing in person. Unlike many pianists, who seem to grab and lurch at the piano, sometimes accompanying the keyboard with exotic grunts and moans, Hersch—quiet and contemplative from the outset—moved about the keys with Zen-like efficiency, as if the music was descending directly from his mind and heart into his instrument. There was no extraneous movement or gesturing. With a Steinway baby grand at his disposal, he was able to articulate modalities ranging from Bill Evans' impressionism to Oscar Peterson's lively "chat," with perhaps a measure of Cecil Taylor to spice up the mix.

On "Swamp Thang," a sort of primal soup of harmonies and counterpoints, Alessi did some extraordinary changes, eliciting "ahs" and "wows" from the crowd. Preminger came on in a quieter manner, with reflective improvisations in softer tones. By the time the group got to "Fall" and "I Mean You," the feeling of intense, swinging ensemble playing emerged into a very sophisticated concatenation of genres, and their free jazz playing—which Hersch explicitly dedicated to Coleman—was remarkable in its accessibility. What Hersch himself was able to articulate here was nothing short of piano magic—his changes and punctuations something that any great concert pianist would envy. "I Mean You" became hot, with rich improv solos from each of the musicians, with Hebert and Drummond, in particular—staying largely in the background for most of the set—wailing on this tune.

The Jazz Standard, located on East 27th Street just off Park Avenue in Manhattan, is one of the best places anywhere to hear jazz in an intimate setting. The acoustics are excellent, as are the sight lines; there is enough space to avoid feeling crowded; the staff is affable and responsive; and the food is quite good, including Cayjun menu items like back ribs from the famed Blue Smoke restaurant upstairs. All taken together, this proved to be a great evening of jazz at the highest level.

Photo Credit

Matthew Sussman

Related Video

Shop

More Articles

Read Vossajazz 2017 Live Reviews Vossajazz 2017
by Ian Patterson
Published: April 23, 2017
Read Hermeto Pascoal at SFJAZZ Live Reviews Hermeto Pascoal at SFJAZZ
by Harry S. Pariser
Published: April 21, 2017
Read Lewis Nash and Steve Wilson at JazzNights Live Reviews Lewis Nash and Steve Wilson at JazzNights
by David A. Orthmann
Published: April 18, 2017
Read Tallinn Music Week 2017 Live Reviews Tallinn Music Week 2017
by Martin Longley
Published: April 16, 2017
Read Bergamo Jazz Festival 2017 Live Reviews Bergamo Jazz Festival 2017
by Francesco Martinelli
Published: April 14, 2017
Read Miles From India at SFJAZZ Live Reviews Miles From India at SFJAZZ
by Walter Atkins
Published: April 14, 2017
Read "Davy Knowles at Higher Ground" Live Reviews Davy Knowles at Higher Ground
by Doug Collette
Published: August 27, 2016
Read "The Billy Hart Quartet at the 21c Museum Hotel" Live Reviews The Billy Hart Quartet at the 21c Museum Hotel
by Joseph Boselovic
Published: September 28, 2016
Read "Andy Milne and Dapp Theory at SOUTH Jazz Kitchen" Live Reviews Andy Milne and Dapp Theory at SOUTH Jazz Kitchen
by Mike Jacobs
Published: May 19, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM RECORDS | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!