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Sunday, June 22, 2014

CD Review: Fred Hersch Trio – Floating.

 Fred Hersch(pno); John Hebert (bass); Eric McPherson (dms).
(Review by David Brownlow).
This is the first Fred Hersch Trio studio album in four years after a series of “live” sessions featuring the same personnel.  A fine player, influenced by some of the “greats” – Evans, Peterson, & Jamal among them, Hersch has evolved his own style which is highly technical, imaginative, searching, emotional and inspiring. The CD follows the typical pattern of a Hersch Trio set when the opener is a standard, followed by some original music, then a ballad from the GAS book and finally ending with a Monk piece.
You And The Night And The Music is played in a quasi – classical style with elements of fugue, minuet and contrapuntal work incorporated. The familiar chords of the song help the listener to follow the intricately – woven rhapsodic improvisations. The title track Floating flows gracefully along, providing harmonic surprises at every turn where Fred resolves his chord sequences in unexpected ways. The Trio work well together, interplaying with worthwhile contributions from bass and drums. West Virginia Rose, the first of six pieces all dedicated to various people, is a through-composed song inspired by Hersch’s mother and grandmother – with words by our own Norma Winstone  who has provided lyrics for several of Fred’s songs in other contexts. Home Fries dedicated to bassist Hebert  has a rolling Crescent City “good-time” feel.
Far Away is for Shamrit Shoshan - McPherson’s wife - who shockingly died in 2012 at the age of 29. This reflective piece is deeply felt – again with unexpected harmonic twists and turns, each one taking the listener unawares. Arcata, dedicated to Esperanza Spalding, has a restless, driving quality with a “catchy” melody and sprightly improvising from Hersch. A Speech To The Sea  dedicated to Finnish artist Maaria Wirkkala,  gently evolves as an impressionistic piece ebbing and flowing in a graceful style with a standout melodic solo from the bassist.
Autumn Haze for fellow-pianist  Kevin Hays has effective trio interplay throughout ( as in Evans/LaFaro/Motian). Strong minor harmonies in a descending pattern characterize this song. The penultimate track   If Ever I Would Leave You is performed as a ballad contrasting sharply with Rollins’ well-known up-tempo version. It’s played in the style of the Keith Jarrett “Standards” Trio with much filigree decoration from the piano, root-seeking basslines and tasteful drumming. A standout track! Finally, Monk’s Lets Cool One  taken at a jaunty tempo, is thoroughly examined by the Trio with humour, invention and vigour.
Overall, a very enjoyable CD by a major jazz artist whose career continues to evolve in imaginative settings. Available on PALMETTO from July 8..
Dave B.

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