5

Fred Hersch: Open Book

Doug Collette By

Sign in to view read count
Slowly but surely, over the last five years, Fred Hersch has been encroaching upon Brad Mehldau's position as the premiere player on jazz piano. And while it's debatable the latter's openness to experimentation with the likes of electronicist/percussionist Mark Giuliana or nouveau bluegrass master Chris Thile renders him superior, it is the very purity of the former's work, relegated to either solo piano or an acoustic trio format, that elevates him in stature. One of 2017's best, continues that process.

Alternately regal and playful on "The Orb," the notes Fred Hersch plays on "Whisper Not" ring continuously with a bell-like clarity. Having developed a studious but not overly academic persona, Hersch's playing provokes curiosity to listen closely, creating an aura that's more inviting than off-putting. And that's no small achievement either, because with Jobim's "Singaro," as the latter aforementioned tune of Benny Golson's, Hersch is doing this as fully and completely with cover material as his own compositions.

That said, on originals such as "Through the Forest" (its images echoed in the vivid cover art) and "Plainsong," it becomes clear Fred Hersch has an instrumental vocabulary sufficient to work as fluently by himself as with his trio. He knows how to balance simplicity in such a way that allows the space(s) here to echo with the detail that otherwise furthers interaction with other musicians. Therein lies a restful quality that belies the florid detail.

Fred Hersch's Open Book begs questions of comparison with ensemble settings and almost, but not quite, renders them moot. But in combination with Alive at the Vanguard (Palmetto, 2012), Sunday Night at the Vanguard (Palmetto, 2016) and Floating (Palmetto, 2014), a trio set from the studio, the cumulative effect of this man's work, and this single title, is undeniably pleasurable on its own terms and for the estimable means by which it maintains one of the jazz genre's most beloved instrumental formats.

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

About Fred Hersch
Articles | Calendar | Discography | Photos | More...

Tags

Shop for Music

Start your music shopping from All About Jazz and you'll support us in the process. Learn how.

Related

Read A Throw Of Dice
A Throw Of Dice
By Dan McClenaghan
Read Roma
Roma
By Mike Jurkovic
Read e-motion
e-motion
By Nicholas F. Mondello
Read The Real Blue
The Real Blue
By Jack Bowers
Read City Abstract
City Abstract
By Dan Bilawsky
Read Spectrum
Spectrum
By Mike Jurkovic
Read Munich 2016
Munich 2016
By Karl Ackermann
Read Sounds of 3 Edition 2
Sounds of 3 Edition 2
By Geno Thackara