Saturday, August 24, 2013

Fred Hersch and Julian Lage Free Flying 2013

Two of the most inventive minds in improvisational music team up for an intimate harmonic exploratory of lyrical possibilities and melodic bliss.
Brent Black /

In discussing creativity a guitarist that travels on the smoother side of the improvisational street reminded me an artist is only creative as they feel the need to be. The latest recording from Fred Hersch along with Julian Lage is just that, an intimate in the moment look at spontaneous creativity and the accompanying melodic development of a three dimensional sonic depth of field that is truly captivating. The impressionistic mind of Hersch coupled with the versatility of Lage is the hand in glove intuitive work of two virtuoso talents approaching an apex of creativity unrivaled in their field today.

Recorded live at Kitano in February of 2013, six of the nine pieces are spirited reharms of Hersch's earlier work with "Songs Without Words  #3 & #4" and "Down Home" perhaps three of the finest. Taste is of course subjective however when considering the prolific talents of both individuals the blatantly obvious comes into play and the discussion move to an examination of just what level of brilliance both participants were operating on while recording. As strong as the compositions are including the set closer "Monk's Dream" the vast amount of space each artist is permitted to work within would only seem to heighten this lyrical road less traveled. Free Flying is the first piano/guitar duet release since the 1998 release Songs We Know with Bill Frisell. The alliance with Lage is not new with the young six string phenom having met Hersch in 2010 and the occasional duo gig popping up at Hersch's request.

In an interview with Fred Hersch earlier this year he cautioned me on critics that tend to take the easy way out. Some reviews write themselves are more often than not the least said the better. Fred Hersch and Julian Lage formulate a harmonic synergy of sound, organic intimacy with sophisticated elegance. A magnificent recording.

Tracks: Songs Without Words#4; Duet; Down Home; Heartland; Free Flying; Beatrice; Songs Without Words #3; Tango; Stealthiness; Gravity's Pull; Monk's Dream.

Fred Hersch - Piano
Julian Lage - Guitar