All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

9

Fred Hersch: Open Book

Dan McClenaghan By

Sign in to view read count
In the aftermath of his coma and very possible demise back in 2008, pianist Fred Hersch blossomed from a status as a first rate jazz pianist into the rarified air of one of the handful of top practitioners of that art form. A series of post-illness albums, from Whirl (2010), to Alone At The Vanguard (2011) to Floating (2014), Solo (2015) and Sunday Night At the Vanguard (2016), all on Palmetto Records, are all solo and trio outings that reveal a heightened artistic clarity and unabashed vulnerability, alongside a deeper emotive approach, this in comparison to his uniformly excellent, but perhaps more cerebral output before his struggle with serious health problems.

Now we have Open Book, Hersch's eleventh solo piano outing.

Intimacy is a hallmark of Hersch's music, and "The Orb," the set's opener, taken from Hersch's autobiographical music/theater piece, My Coma Dreams, is the tenderest, loveliest of love songs, a look at a paramour through, with justification it seems, rose-colored glasses. "Whisper Not," Benny Golson's classic tune, takes things into a turn of the playful, via crisp, prancing piano notes singing over a serious and  assertive left hand. Hersch  visits an old friend, Antonio Carlo Jobim, with "Zingaro," a sublime reverie.

The centerpiece, "Through The Forest," is something unheard of on record by Hersch. It's a nineteen minutes-plus, stream-of-consciousness, improvised in-the-moment masterpiece. An ebb and flow dreamscape of sorts—the most fragile of delicacies and the most sacred and quiet moments slipped in beside emphatic percussive energy—music as enchanting as anything the pianist has ever created.

Then in walks Monk. Hersch includes a Thelonious Monk tune in most every set, most every recording. "Eronel" is a spritely interpretation by Hersch, who immerses himself the challenging music deeper than most anybody, peppering the stride-side  with sparkling, water-splashing-off-the-rocks sounds, rolling into jagged eddies, leading into the closer, Billy Joel's "And So It Goes," solemn, simple, honest, beautiful.

Honesty—another hallmark of Hersch's art.

This is a recording that makes it seem as though Fred Hersch is the finest jazz pianist in the world. That's an impossible assertion, of course. There are a dozen, maybe more pianists who have achieved this  level artistry. But for now, with Open Book, he can wear that title.   .   

Track Listing: The Orb; Whisper Not; Zingaro; Through the Forest; Plainsong; Eronel; And So It Goes.

Personnel: Fred Hersch: piano

Title: Open Book | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Palmetto Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

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: 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
Solo

Solo

Palmetto Records
2015

buy

Related Articles

Read Rumah Batu CD/LP/Track Review
Rumah Batu
by Ian Patterson
Published: July 17, 2018
Read The Bat Swings! CD/LP/Track Review
The Bat Swings!
by Jack Bowers
Published: July 17, 2018
Read Terrestrial CD/LP/Track Review
Terrestrial
by Troy Dostert
Published: July 17, 2018
Read Get Somethin' CD/LP/Track Review
Get Somethin'
by Geno Thackara
Published: July 17, 2018
Read Bansangu Orchestra CD/LP/Track Review
Bansangu Orchestra
by Roger Farbey
Published: July 17, 2018
Read Smart Grid CD/LP/Track Review
Smart Grid
by Karl Ackermann
Published: July 16, 2018
Read "Vessel in Orbit" CD/LP/Track Review Vessel in Orbit
by Don Phipps
Published: January 19, 2018
Read "Slow Learner" CD/LP/Track Review Slow Learner
by John Sharpe
Published: December 7, 2017
Read "You Eat My Food, You Drink My Wine, You Steal My Girl!" CD/LP/Track Review You Eat My Food, You Drink My Wine, You Steal My Girl!
by Jerome Wilson
Published: February 18, 2018
Read "Live at Ronnie Scott's" CD/LP/Track Review Live at Ronnie Scott's
by Geno Thackara
Published: September 10, 2017
Read "In Paris: The Definitive ORTF Recording" CD/LP/Track Review In Paris: The Definitive ORTF Recording
by Geno Thackara
Published: January 11, 2018
Read "Roberto Magris Sextet Live In Miami @ The WDNA Jazz Gallery" CD/LP/Track Review Roberto Magris Sextet Live In Miami @ The WDNA Jazz Gallery
by Karl Ackermann
Published: December 2, 2017