Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Fred Hersch Trio Alive at the Vanguard Sept. 11. 2012 Palmetto Records

Photo Credit Steve J. Sherman.

Fred Hersch Trio Alive at the Vanguard Sept. 11. 2012 Palmetto Records

Fred Hersch is a musical enigma. I believe he may like that. The piano trio has become an exercise in artistic futility for some. Tired. Predictable. Taking levels of mediocrity to unforeseen heights. In short, too many artists doing a riff on a composition from someone else as opposed to tackling their own inner artistic sense of self. The Fred Hersch Trio is different.

To capture the essence of not just the trio but of Hersch in a few key strokes and clicks of a mouse is disingenuous at best but all too common in the day of the digital download and media on demand. This two disc set contains jazz standards and iconic classics such as "Softly As In A Morning Sunrise" and "I Fall In Love Too Easily." There are unexpected surprises including the Sonny Rollins tune "Doxy" as well as dedications to Paul Motian and Ornette Coleman. A very important artistic sense of knowing who you are and being comfortable with belonging starts to emerge within the sonic wash that seems to permeate this stellar recording.

Short of the great Bill Evans, harmonic inventiveness and expression may have been left up to Chick Corea and some of the better Eastern European artists. Recorded Alive At The Vanguard allows Hersch to expand his forte within and often exceeding the typical confines of the piano trio. John Hebert on bass and Eric McPherson on drums round out the almost perfectly placed rhythm section and they master the unexpected. They play with and not around Hersch.

Thanks to Hersch and his deft touch, the piano trio begins to take on a more significant role as a organism with an eclectic pulse that lives, breathes and even grows as this two disc gem develops fully.

The intent of Alive At The Vanguard is to give one the impression that they are in attendance and in both the literal and figurative sense you are. Not ipod friendly, no music of true and lasting substance is as we find Alive At The Vanguard a fitting if not at times brilliant triumph of the beauty of a singularly placed note and heart string on which it may tug.

An epic work. 5 Stars.

Tracks: Disc 1 - Havana, Tristesse, Segment, Lonely Woman/Nardis, Dream Of Monk, Rising, Falling, Softly As In A Morning Sunrise, Doxy.

Disc 2 - Opener, I Fall In Love Too Easily, Jackalope, The Wind/Moon and Sand, Sartorial, From This Moment On, The Song Is You/Played Twice.

Fred Hersch: piano; John Hebert: bass; Eric McPherson: drums.