252

Fred Hersch Pocket Orchestra: Live at the Jazz Standard

Raul d'Gama Rose By

Sign in to view read count
Fred Hersch Pocket Orchestra: Live at the Jazz Standard Fred Hersch has been known to push the envelope on many occasions—writing and performing music that has, time and again, crossed a myriad of boundaries of categories. And the pianist has done it again with Live at the Jazz Standard a record that happened thanks to the fact that the music of this concert was being archived. This album sweeps across a soundscape and works on the premise of a kind of 360-degree piano. Hersch utilizes the instrument as a melodic lead, harmonic interplaying partner and rhythmic contrapuntal cohort when the need arises. And arise it does, as Hersch—for this date—eliminates the need for a bass altogether. Richie Barshay is listed here as playing percussion. Normally semantics would not matter, but this appears to suggest something more than occupying the role of drumming, as in a rhythmic anchor.

It appears that the roles of each instrument—piano, trumpet and voice—are both melodic and harmonic, that of the percussion is harmonic and rhythmic. Thus the whole concept of the Pocket Orchestra, as Hersch refers to his ensemble, is both valid and a vivid reality. Each instrument layers the music by draping sound-upon-sound in delicate muslin-like sheets so as to create a ululating, living, ever-changing wave of notes rising and falling like an ocean of sound. The addition of voice enables Hersch to enhance the mood and emotion of the music, when desired and almost at will—especially on pieces that have an otherwise rigid (and by definition) form.

The addition of voice to "Invitation to the Dance (Sarabande)," which is a formal baroque sarabande, enables Hersch to add an ethereal romance to the song. Thus is created a beautiful dancing number that, despite its slow pace, also at times harks back to the time of a melodie espagnole, that is in the tradition of Monteverdi and Corelli. He repeats the device in "Canzona," another delightful swinging, moving piece. "A Wish (Valentine)," which rounds out the record, is another spectacular vocal piece. Not surprisingly, both lyric elements have been created by Norma Winstone, the remarkable British vocalist, who excels in the company of pianist John Taylor and Canadian expat trumpeter Kenny Wheeler.

Contrast this with "Stuttering," an energetic rhythmic vehicle for piano, perhaps the exception rather than the norm of this record. And to prove it is so, the track is immediately followed by "Child's Song," a gorgeous melody that appears made for the soaring voice of Jo Lawry and the darting trumpet runs by Ralph Alessi that appears to disintegrate delightfully into a playful mirage of glimmering trumpet and piano and percussion before returning to the original melody again. "Free Flying," another vehicle for the vocalastics of Jo Lawry, captures the playful nature of the form—a Brazilian loro complete with marching rhythms, harking back to an exquisite improvisation by Egberto Gismonti on his ZigZag (ECM, 1996). This record celebrates the relationship between voice and instrumental harmonics and percussion coloration, within the vast realm of the piano.


Track Listing: Stuttering; Child's Song; Song Without Words #4 Duet; Light Years; Down Home; Invitation to the Dance (Sarabande); Lee's Dream; Canzona: Free Flying; A Wish (Valentine).

Personnel: Fred Hersch: piano; Ralph Alessi: trumpet; Jo Lawry: voice; Richie Barshay: percussion.

Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Sunnyside Records | Style: Modern Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Rapture CD/LP/Track Review The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Rapture
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Coldest Second Yesterday CD/LP/Track Review Coldest Second Yesterday
by John Sharpe
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Follow Your Heart CD/LP/Track Review Follow Your Heart
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 25, 2017
Read The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door CD/LP/Track Review The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Chicago II CD/LP/Track Review Chicago II
by Doug Collette
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Over the Rainbow CD/LP/Track Review Over the Rainbow
by Paul Rauch
Published: February 24, 2017
Read "Aziza" CD/LP/Track Review Aziza
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: October 19, 2016
Read "2nd Thoughts" CD/LP/Track Review 2nd Thoughts
by Mark Sullivan
Published: January 8, 2017
Read "Signature" CD/LP/Track Review Signature
by Chris Mosey
Published: August 17, 2016
Read "Shimmer And Melt" CD/LP/Track Review Shimmer And Melt
by Mark Corroto
Published: April 1, 2016
Read "Deeper Journey" CD/LP/Track Review Deeper Journey
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: September 25, 2016
Read "Further Explorations" CD/LP/Track Review Further Explorations
by Karl Ackermann
Published: May 23, 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!

Buy it!