Occasionally his formalism reverts to fussiness, but generally he strikes a deft balance of architectural discipline and improvisatory freedom, particularly in the Porter material. The second chorus begins with high plinks then dances in bebop rhythm. Don't Fence Me In 05. When he did so, the swift and intricate melody kept the young virtuoso more challenged than usual, though he proved more than up to the task, handling the lead ably when it came his turn and echoing Hersch when it returned to the piano. Lage was featured early into it, and its newness had him eyeing the sheet music and stealing glances at Hersch. Lage was at his strongest here, and concluded the piece with a countryish flair. Songs Without Words is an ambitious triptych that profiles Hersch as solo pianist, composer and interpreter.
The pianist took over the lead at one point, with Lage offering understated comping, and as the piece progressed it became freer and more abstract while retaining its chamber-jazz feel. Hersch's greatest challenge may have been the often-recorded Cole Porter's music. I Concentrate on You 09. And a few more ensembles would have better balanced the set. Volume two covers jazz tunes by Monk, Ellington, Gillespie, Mingus, Benny Golson, Wayne Shorter, Russ Freeman and Kenny Wheeler. Hersch is a profound formalist: fastidiously committed to the structural integrity of his material but endlessly inventive in the way he liberates emotion through sophisticated harmony, rhythmic flexibility, melodic ingenuity, dynamics, meter changes, pedal points, vamps, suspensions, ornamental nuance and nutty whims that conjure up the spirit of Earl Hines.
Volume three is devoted to Cole Porter, the most structurally intriguing of the great American popular songwriters. Hersch started out carrying the piece at Scullers, with Lage seeming to look for a way to join in. Here is one label that still understands how to be both profitable and righteous, turning out savvy recordings and reinvesting unexpected windfalls from hits like the Buena Vista Social Club into worthy projects unlikely to excite a Wall Street analyst, except, perhaps, a very hip one. If any musician, record company or band member is offended by me posting any of their material, please notify me and it will be removed immediately. Chords, greater density and volume span the fourth chorus before the music cycles back to Porter. I am not making money off of these videos, nor is it my intentions to do so at any time in the future. The process of distilling the mainstream vocabulary into a personal voice takes years if it happens at all.
And the Boston performance, like the album, demonstrated how ideally matched they are as a duo. Also present are equally creative interpretations of music by Duke Ellington, Benny Golson, Wayne Shorter, Charles Mingus, and Dizzy Gillespie. Ev'ry Time We Say Goodbye 06. Blues Alley and New York the Blue Note over the next several days and two more next month in Chicago the Jazz Showcase. Non-profit, educational or personal use tips the balance in favour of fair use. Fred Hersch and Julian Lage kicked off a short run of promoting their splendid live duo album, Free Flying, at the Boston club Scullers Nov.
Hersch opens with the verse, swinging insouciantly. He refracts a swinging triplet figure throughout, erupting in joyous double-time and Bach-like dialogue between hands. Though Hersch mostly goes it alone, the set is spiced by duets with percussionist Jamey Haddad, trumpeter Ralph Alessi and drummer Tom Rainey; a trio with bassist Drew Gress and Rainey; and a quintet with Alessi, saxophonist Rich Perry, bassist Reid Anderson and drummer Nasheet Waits. Get Out of Town 02. The album was recorded this past February, after a chance meeting in a Boston coffee shop a couple of years earlier. A stair-step sequence takes Hersch into the basement of the piano where he rumbles softly for a chorus. Hersch swings when he wants to, is a brilliant improviser and loves his Monk, but his playing has a lightness to it that sets it apart from the hard bop mainstream.
. Hersch is never arbitrary yet he is rarely predictable either. Hersch has had to stomach a lot of knee-jerk comparisons with Bill Evans, but if their means are different, one valid connection is the forward momentum and continuous development in their improvisations. A wink of Bachian counterpoint starts the improvising and the dialogue between left and right hands deepens. From This Moment On 04. Up in the Air 09. Bob Blumenthal's enlightening liner notes add to the value of this highly recommended set.
Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing. . . . . .
. . . . .