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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.
I love jazz because when I was a kid pop music was bland, plain, uneventful until one day I heard a tune on a juke box entitled Jump Red Jump By Tenor Saxophonist Red Prysock brother of Arthur Prysock
I love jazz because when I was a kid pop music was bland, plain, uneventful until one day I heard a tune on a juke box entitled Jump Red Jump By Tenor Saxophonist Red Prysock brother of Arthur Prysock. It was love at first sight . This was when Blues, Soul / Gospel Style Music was becoming popular amongst kids as well as hip adults and featured Ray Charles, Big Joe Turner and The Payola era DJ's such as Alan Freed. Not many people remember that Freed's Rock n Roll Band of the 1950's was The Count Basie Orchestra featuring the Guy Singer Tony Bennett (Anthony DiBenedetto) who grew up in Astoria, NYNY right next to my Home Town Jackson Heights NYNY.
I was first exposed to jazz when I heard Red Prysock, Sam The Man Taylor & groups like the Chord Cats recording of Shaboom! It made the Crew Cuts look LAME! Now Jazz, Blues, Soul, Gospel was pretty much joined at the hip back then and I learned that the tasteful Music was featured on The African American Radio Stations which led me to DJ's Like The Bruce, Jocko Henderson, Tommy Dr. Jive Smalls and eventually Symphony Sid Torin, China Valles and Len Pace. This all took place during my high school years and the following years in NYNY and South Florida. I actually flew to Copenhagen Denmark in 1961 to see Stan Getz, (One of my top 3 heroes in the Music Bird, Pres & Getz not necessarily in that order). Sadly Getz had already left town and snuck back into NYNY where he played Birdland (Undoubtedly without a cabaret card due to smack addiction.) No problem for me as I worked for Pan American Airways at the time and enjoyed a 90% Employee Discount.
I met Thelonious Monk, Stan Kenton, Warne Marsh, Lenny Tristano, Art Farmer, Benny Golson, Frank Foster, Dr. Lonnie Smith, among many others over the years.
The best show I ever attended was The Randall's Island Jazz Festival NYNY 1960. Monk & Edward Ellington Kennedy AKA Duke, starred among numerous others. I can not recall the entire Line Up but Monk brought along his Hat Collection which at the time contained I believe he told me 33 or 35 international Hats which he periodically changed often during his Solos. I have been unable to find that roster for that particular festival and since it was long ago I remember mostly Monk & Duke. Paul Gonsalvas played his legendary trademark twenty something chorus solo in between Diminuendo and Crescendo in Blue which was outstanding.
The first jazz record I bought was Firstly, my Bro George was / is a Marine and he sent home his wax collection of LP's from Camp Pendleton CA before deploying to Okinawa in 1956 I think. Bird, Getz, Mulligan & Baker, Erroll Garner, Blakey's Jazz Messengers, Jazz at Newport 1956 and many more. I fell in love with Bird, Getz and Jeru & Chet for openers. Pres to my mind takes the all time Tenor Award and Budo, Piano etc.! However I digress Getz Long Island Sound and every other Getz record that I could find that was 1957 by then and I snuck in to Birdland for the First of many times before I was 18 ( Legal drinking age back then) It wasn't until just after my 18th Birthday that I was carded much to the bouncers chagrin as he recognized me as having being an established customer by then.
My advice to new listeners: Listen to the Music and keep it in the forefront not the background. A Local Band Leader whose name escapes me once said to me Jerry you can make time for the chicks later the Music is in the now and is more important than chicks ever will be. He was correct!
Next see live performances and introduce yourself to the Players most of whom will be respectful. Some, however, are unapproachable such as when I saw Miles so many times but his obvious disdain for certain fans was evident and he always walked off the stage after soloing. (Eddie Jefferson sang words to So What that so indicated this)!