405

Fred Hersch: Plays Jobim

Victor L. Schermer By

Sign in to view read count
Fred Hersch: Plays Jobim It is a pleasure to follow pianist Fred Hersch's recorded output as he delivers creative and deeply felt solo and small group jazz, seeking to express ideas that sometimes approach the mysterious and ineffable, yet remain rooted in the best of musical expression. In this excellent release, Hersch offers nine solo piano versions of the work of the late great and beloved co-inventor and master of Brazilian bossa nova, Antonio Carlos Jobim, many of whose songs, initially brought to the jazz scene by guitarist Charlie Byrd and saxophonist Stan Getz and hitting the pinnacle of the pop charts with the vocal renderings of Astrud Gilberto and, later, Frank Sinatra, have become standards and touched the hearts of many.



As Hersch mentions in the brief reflections of his liner notes, he does not try to recapitulate the straight-ahead bossa nova renditions that he learned early in his career and that have characterized the multitude of recordings of Jobim's music. Rather, each is a meditation and sometimes even a deconstruction of what is contained in each song; in this sense, perhaps, reminiscent of the subtle renderings of guitarist Joao Gilberto. In gentle, reflective ballads such as the opening "Por Toda Minha Vida," "Luiza," and finale, "Corcovado," Hersch seeks to sustain a mood, often reminiscent of Bill Evans, and concentrating on the inner voicings of the Debussy-ian harmonies that influenced both the late pianist and Jobim. In a series of introspective variations, he goes into the corner pockets of the song, looking for an image here, a sense-memory there, a moment of truth everywhere. At times, like Evans, he achieves a loveliness that reaches down into the heart.



What Hersch does with the upbeat bossa novas like "O Grande Amor," Brigas Nunca Mais" (accompanied by percussionist Jamey Haddad), and "Desafinado" comes as a bit of a surprise, as he rocks and rags the bossa rhythm into something vaguely reminiscent of a cross between tango and hip hop, and which he explains in his commentary is based on Brazilian ragtime, "chorinhos." Once accustomed to it, the strong rhythm adds energy to the tunes that even Jobim might not have contemplated. Ultimately it is pure Hersch-play, specifically his unique way of finding something different, even a bit exotic, and going with it, although Jobim himself anticipated some of this fun in his wonderfully playful and intimate recording with Brazilian singer, Elis Regina.



All of the music here is infused with Hersch's ability to use his vast assimilation of classical and jazz genres to tell a story and improvise rich tapestries of harmony, counterpoint, and tone color that enter into a reflective reverie between himself and Jobim. He never retreats from complexity, and at times achieves a compositional richness which suggests that what he plays spontaneously could well be transcribed into an orchestral suite. This is not the casual Jobim that gets piped into restaurants and hotel bars. This is one master musician's homage to another, done with respect. One can be sure that Jobim himself—who, more than a song writer, incorporated his awareness of multiple musical modes, from Brazilian samba, to Debussy and Villa-Lobos, to West Coast "cool" jazz into his songs—would have felt honored and touched by Hersch's interpretations.


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).

Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Sunnyside Records | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Shop

More Articles

Read Road to Forever CD/LP/Track Review Road to Forever
by Jack Bowers
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Avenida Graham CD/LP/Track Review Avenida Graham
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 27, 2017
Read TAI Fest #1 (Vol.1&2) CD/LP/Track Review TAI Fest #1 (Vol.1&2)
by Nicola Negri
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Goat Man & The House of the Dead CD/LP/Track Review Goat Man & The House of the Dead
by Dave Wayne
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Backlog CD/LP/Track Review Backlog
by James Nadal
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Acceptance CD/LP/Track Review Acceptance
by Tyran Grillo
Published: February 26, 2017
Read "Process And Reality" CD/LP/Track Review Process And Reality
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 24, 2017
Read "What's Wrong" CD/LP/Track Review What's Wrong
by John Sharpe
Published: December 2, 2016
Read "Earprint" CD/LP/Track Review Earprint
by Jerome Wilson
Published: October 14, 2016
Read "Honest Woman" CD/LP/Track Review Honest Woman
by James Nadal
Published: February 20, 2017
Read "Ocean of Storms" CD/LP/Track Review Ocean of Storms
by Troy Dostert
Published: February 21, 2017
Read "I'm Gonna Tell You Somethin' That I Know" CD/LP/Track Review I'm Gonna Tell You Somethin' That I Know
by James Nadal
Published: August 2, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: Jazz Near You | GET IT  

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!