The Fred Hersch Trio – Sunday Night At The Vanguard (2016)

The Fred Hersch Trio - Sunday Night At The Vanguard (2016)
Artist: The Fred Hersch Trio
Album: Sunday Night At The Vanguard
Label: Palmetto Records
Year Of Release: 2016
Quality: FLAC (tracks)

01. A Cockeyed Optimist [7:29]
02. Serpentine [8:37]
03. The Optimum Thing [5:15]
04. Calligram [5:11]
05. Blackwing Palomino [6:13]
06. For No One [7:06]
07. Everybody’s Song But My Own [7:20]
08. The Peacocks [10:14]
09. We See [7:07]
10. Solo Encore: Valentine [3:26]


Jazz is too often portrayed as an art form defined by blazing young artists. It’s true that many jazz masters reach a mid-career plateau marked by small variations on a mature style. But there’s also a vanguard of players and composers who continue to refine and expand the art form in middle age and beyond, like Wayne Shorter, Chick Corea, Henry Threadgill, and piano maestro Fred Hersch, who is marking his 60th year with an astonishing creative surge. Slated for release by his longtime label Palmetto on August 12, 2016, Hersch’s new recording Sunday Night at the Vanguard stands as the most profound and enthralling trio statement yet by an improviser whose bands have embodied the enduring relevance of the piano-bass-and-drums format for three decades. With Sunday, Hersch’s trio gracefully leapfrogs past its already daunting accomplishments. Featuring the exquisitely interactive bassist John Hébert and extraordinarily sensitive drummer Eric McPherson, the ensemble has recorded a series of critically hailed albums over the past seven years, including 2012’s Fred Hersch Trio – Alive at the Vanguard, a double album that earned France’s top jazz award, the Grand Prix du Disque, and 2014’s lavishly praised Floating, a double Grammy®-nominee (both on Palmetto). Recorded at the storied venue that’s become Hersch’s second home, Sunday Night at the Vanguard unfolds with all the dramatic intensity and narrative drive that make his performances a revelatory experience. Ebulliently playful and ravishingly lyrical, rhythmically elastic and harmonically exploratory, the trio plays with an extraordinary level of trust, assurance, high-wire poise and musicality throughout the set. “The thing that’s beautiful about Eric is his touch,” Hersch says. “He’s the straight man and John is the loose guy, though sometimes they reverse it.” Hersch quickly gained recognition as a superlative band-mate, performing and recording with masters such as Stan Getz, Joe Henderson, Billy Harper, Lee Konitz, Art Farmer, Gary Burton, Toots Thielemans, and many others. Since releasing his first album under his own name he’s recorded in an array of settings, including a series of captivating solo recitals, duos with vocalists Janis Siegel and Norma Winstone, and ambitious extended compositional projects including a widely-praised setting of Walt Whitman’s “Leaves of Grass.” As an educator, he has shepherded some of the finest young pianists in jazz through his teaching at NEC, Juilliard, Rutgers and the New School. A leading force in galvanizing the jazz community in the fights against HIV/AIDS, he produced 1994’s all-star benefit project Last Night When We Were Young: The Ballad Album. He’s gained the most widespread visibility as the leader of a series of remarkable trios. From his first session with Marc Johnson and Joey Baron, he’s pushed at the limits of lyricism and temporal fluidity with similarly searching improvisers. He has consistently drawn deeply from the music’s most refined players while forging his own approach. He considers his current trio, with John Hébert and Eric McPherson, as his best to date. “I always say that as a player there are three main threads that come to prominence at different times,” Hersch says. “There’s the trio, which is a constant. I’ve been doing duo encounters steadily going way back to Jane Ira Bloom in the early 1980s. But I think solo feels equal to the trio in terms of being the hub of my musical wheel. My solo playing feeds my trio and vice versa.” A feature length film, The Ballad of Fred Hersch, recently premiered to rapturous reviews at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, and Hersch is busy at work on a memoir (working title: Good Things Happen Slowly) for Crown/Random House due in stores Spring 2017.

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