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December 2008

Michael Moore & Fred Hersch
This We Know
Palmetto Records

According to the very brief liner notes, Michael Moore and Fred Hersch go back some 30 years, when both were students at Boston’s New England Conservatory. They certainly play like musicians with a conservatory background; both are polished, technically adept instrumentalists. More importantly for the purposes of this music, they sound very much as if they attended the very same conservatory—a place where they shared teachers, experiences and practice rooms—they’re so in-sync with one another.

On this album of duets, Moore displays remarkably fluid clarinet and alto sax chops, and an idiosyncratic lyricism worthy of Lee Konitz, yet distinct unto itself. Pianist Hersch possesses a beautiful touch and an innate romanticism. The pair covers a wide range of material, from the old pop tune “Aquellos Ojos Verdes (Green Eyes)” to Thelonious Monk’s “Four in One.” That they can essay both Nat “King” Cole and Monk as convincingly as they do says a great deal about the depth of their artistry. There are very few hard edges to this music, but there’s nothing soft about it. It’s substantial, both intellectually and emotionally—a very satisfying listen.

Originally published in December 2008
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