Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Nancy King: Live at Jazz Standard with Fred Hersch

There aren’t enough adjectives in Roget’s Thesaurus to do this album justice.

It embodies everything that’s right, healthy and fun about jazz. Consider this: Fred Hersch and Nancy King never met before this magical encounter in the fall of 2004. The pianist had King flown from her home in Portland, Ore., for Hersch’s Duo Series in New York. Nothing was planned or rehearsed; King didn’t know tapes were rolling. The end result? A celebration of improvisation.

The fact that King never shuts up enhances the recording: You can hear her humming and scatting during Hersch’s solos; she gives the audience a heads-up by stating “a two-fer for you” before “Little Suede Shoes” blends into “Day by Day”; then she follows the medley by exclaiming “Yeah! That worked!” Her amazing ability to scat covers her freakish range from alto to infinity.

Hersch’s reputation as one of the very best compers and swingers in the business is reinforced. Each track is a highlight, but two stand out: “Ain’t Misbehavin’,” thanks to his firm stride, and “Four,” thanks to her irrepressible sense of musical humor and toying with lyrics. On both they also trade unforgettable swinging choruses.

Originally Published