Home » Jazz Articles » Album Review » Fred Hersch: Songs From Home


Fred Hersch: Songs From Home


Sign in to view read count
Fred Hersch: Songs From Home
As Fred Hersch is sometimes wont to do, this album is built around a story, some of which is intended, and some of which may be embedded in the pianist's unconscious and manifested in his imagination and the way that he plays. The conscious part is simple, and basically stated in the liner notes. Hersch leaves the pandemic conditions around his loft in Manhattan and is in semi-isolation in his country home in northeastern Pennsylvania. He and his partner built the home around a familiar but imperfect Steinway piano whose sound is more intimate than grand, so to speak. With a history of a home studio which he used to create some of his own and others' recordings, he thinks of using his laptop to make an album. Why not? Having come a long way from his family home in Ohio, he dwells nostalgically on the musical influences from his life then. He'll make an album of "Songs from Home," a couple of jazz standards, and some that aren't necessarily "jazz" but float around in his (and our collective) memory.

Sitting at the piano, the feeling he creates is of "a home somewhere, far away from the cold night air," words from the Lerner and Lowe song from My Fair Lady, "Wouldn't It Be Loverly?" That nostalgic plaint comes out surprisingly as something resembling a church hymn. The album becomes a kind of a personal reverie where he takes a song and goes where he wants with it, sometimes even altering the form, as when Cole Porter's "Get Out of Town" emerges as a tango with its own twists that even Astor Piazzolla might not have considered. At other times, songs like "Wichita Lineman," Joni Mitchell's "All I Want," and the folk song, "The Water is Wide" are played with apparent simplicity but with tasteful imaginative turns which seek out something hidden. The album has a feeling of quiet introspection, letting the mind and the music go where they want, and coming back to something central in a melody or an idea, like free association, like a stream of consciousness.

As one listens to the album, one may be reminded of some lines from T.S. Eliot's Four Quartets, "East Coker":

"Home is where one starts from. As we grow older The world becomes stranger, the pattern more complicated...

There is a time for the evening under starlight, A time for the evening under lamplight (The evening with the photograph album)...

We must be still and still moving Into another intensity

For a further union, a deeper communion...

In my end is my beginning."

This is an album that will give you some time with your thoughts and memories in a quiet space that is your home. Home is where the heart is, and home is that place of peace within which we feel we belong. Once again, Fred Hersch has given us a part of himself and of our collective love of music, and a message of quietude and hope in the midst of the sufferings we undergo in life and which he himself has experienced with honesty, courage, and grace.

Track Listing

Wouldn't It Be Loverly; Wichita Lineman; After You've Gone; All I Want; Get Out of Town; West Virginia Rose/The Water Is Wide; Sarabande; Consolation (A Folk Song); Solitude; When I'm Sixty-Four.


Album information

Title: Songs from Home | Year Released: 2020 | Record Label: Palmetto Records




Nov 14 Thu
Fred Hersch
Utrecht, Netherlands

For the Love of Jazz
Get the Jazz Near You newsletter All About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.

You Can Help
To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.


Central Park’s Mosaics of Reservoir, Lake,...
Wadada Leo Smith / Amina Claudine Myers
Omawi: Marta Warelis / Onno Govaert / Wilbert De...
Lizz Wright


Get more of a good thing!

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories, our special offers, and upcoming jazz events near you.