Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Fred Hersch: Whirl

Fred Hersch (piano; b. 1955)
Whirl (Palmetto Records)

Eric McPherson (drums)
John Hebert (bass)

Fred Hersch has been on the scene for more than two decades. He has become one of the most prolific and consistently creative musicians around. He is not only a great performer he is an unmatched composer and interpreter of the jazz standard songbook. He has recorded material from Thelonious Monk, Bill Evans, Bill Strayhorn, Antonio Jobim and more. He has recorded with such greats as Joe Henderson (sax) and Stan Getz (sax) among others. He is consistently compared to the great Bill Evans, which is justifiable. Hersch's has a intricate and emotional ability to connect with the listen and the utmost level that you are truly moved by just one piece.

Fred Hersch was diagnosed with HIV in the early '90s and has been a great advocate against the illness. But he is also a symbol for us all on how to cope with adversity. Recently he has recovered from a coma and has come back amazingly strong with his most recent release Whirl (Palmetto Records).

Whirl is about as perfect a piano trio as you'll find. There is something very smooth and free-wheeling about Whirl that hasn't been apparent is his most recent recordings. Tracks like "Skipping" and "Mandevilla" are beautiful and intricately balanced showing a rich upbeat Hersch with superb work from John Hebert and Eric McPherson. The title track "Whirl" jumps with vibrancy and creativity that will surely make new listeners of Hersch stand up and take notice.

Whirl is by far one of my favourite Fred Hersch records. Fred Hersch is still touring (not consistently but he is out there) so if you see his name on the bill at your local jazz club I highly advise you to go. It is a must! Along with Jason Moran's Ten, its definitely one of the best albums by a pianist this year. Fred Hersch continues to paint a beautiful picture of jazz repertoire and standards that will be a monumental legacy for others to follow.

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