519

Fred Hersch: Plays Jobim

Raul d'Gama Rose By

Sign in to view read count
Since his passing in 1994, there have been countless tributes to Antonio Carlos Jobim. Many of these have been come from musicians who played with Tom, as he was called by those who knew him, including Mario and Maucha Adnet, Jacques Morelenbaum, Oscar Castro Neves, Ana Caram and Eliane Elias. Interestingly, these productions have almost all featured small and large ensembles and a multiplicity of instruments—strings (bowed and plucked), voices, pianos and an array of percussion, or at least a drum master who inhabited a deeply Brazilian groove. In contrast, the daring, loving and singular tribute from pianist Fred Hersch, Plays Jobim, is a spectacular adventure on piano alone, except for "Brigas Nunca Mais," which also features continuously circular and maddeningly brilliant splashes, pings and clitter-clatter from percussion colorist extraordinaire, Jamey Haddad.

Attempting a tribute to someone like Jobim is like taking off for the moon. A composer, arranger, singer, guitarist and pianist, and 20th century cultural phenomenon who sits in a heavenly place with the likes of Duke Ellington—and more, with Franz Liszt, Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel—he's been virtually canonized. Not only does Hersch bring a certain reverence to his program in praise of Jobim, but he does so on a perfectly prepared piano all by himself. He pierces the heart of every Jobim melody and proceeds to bring each song's emotional essence to fruition. Moreover, Hersch's pianism is so harmonically rich that Jobim's songs become Hersch's by some magical inside out harmony. And then, with an ingenious understanding of the seemingly limitless rhythmic possibilities of the strings and ebony and ivory, and also mastery of dynamics, Hersch has made any other rhythmic accompaniment a non-issue. Except, that is, for the amazing track he shares with Haddad.

The program itself is a tricky one. How to compress Jobim into nine tracks and still do justice to the project? Hersch opts to bring a selection of familiar charts, such as "O Grande Amor," Meditacao," "Insensatez, "Desafinado" and "Corcovado," which the master himself played time and time again in various settings, treating these charts respectfully, but reserving his most adventurous improvisations for the "old familiars." "Desafinado" is masterfully deconstructed and remade afresh, while on lesser-known tunes such as the brooding "Luiza" and "Pos Toda Minha Vida," the pianist becomes almost spookily like a doppelganger of Jobim and Sinatra, making harmonic leaps but barely above a whisper at times.

The record is magical. Fred Hersch has been rather active of late. Only Hersch's brilliant oratorio, Leaves of Grass (Palmetto, 2005), comes close. This is unbridled genius, unabashedly displayed.

Track Listing: Por Toda Minha Vida; O Grande Amor; Luiza; Meditacao; Insensatez; Brigas Nunca Mais; Modinha/Olha Maria; Desafinado; Corcovado.

Personnel: Fred Hersch: piano; Jamey Haddad: percussion (6).

Title: Plays Jobim | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Sunnyside Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read The Way of It CD/LP/Track Review The Way of It
by Jack Bowers
Published: November 19, 2017
Read Tag Book CD/LP/Track Review Tag Book
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: November 19, 2017
Read Hide Ye Idols CD/LP/Track Review Hide Ye Idols
by Troy Collins
Published: November 19, 2017
Read Spavati, Mozda Sanjati CD/LP/Track Review Spavati, Mozda Sanjati
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: November 19, 2017
Read Estonian Suite: Live In Tallinn CD/LP/Track Review Estonian Suite: Live In Tallinn
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: November 18, 2017
Read Queen City Blues CD/LP/Track Review Queen City Blues
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: November 18, 2017
Read "Platinum on Tap" CD/LP/Track Review Platinum on Tap
by Geannine Reid
Published: September 8, 2017
Read "Nocturno" CD/LP/Track Review Nocturno
by Tyran Grillo
Published: March 9, 2017
Read "Transparent Water" CD/LP/Track Review Transparent Water
by Roger Farbey
Published: December 29, 2016
Read "Super Hi Fi Plays Nirvana" CD/LP/Track Review Super Hi Fi Plays Nirvana
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: March 22, 2017
Read "Live 1972" CD/LP/Track Review Live 1972
by Roger Farbey
Published: June 5, 2017
Read "Asteroidea" CD/LP/Track Review Asteroidea
by Mark Corroto
Published: November 4, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.

Please support out sponsor