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

This is the 1st of your 3 free articles

Become a member for unlimited website access and more.

FREE TRIAL Available!

Learn More

Already a member? Sign in to continue reading

Fred Hersch & Jay Clayton: Beautiful Love (Sunnyside)

Review of album featuring collaboration between the noted pianist and the adventurous vocalist

JazzTimes may earn a small commission if you buy something using one of the retail links in our articles. JazzTimes does not accept money for any editorial recommendations. Read more about our policy here. Thanks for supporting JazzTimes.
Cover of Fred Hersch & Jay Clayton album Beautiful Love
Cover of Fred Hersch & Jay Clayton album Beautiful Love

When pianist Fred Hersch works with jazz singers, only the most collaborative will do. As he explained to JazzTimes at the 2015 Newport fest, he creates “an orchestral bed or rhythmic bed for the singer, but I expect them also to listen to me,” to be both “spontaneous and connected.” For years he’s restricted such partnerships to just piano and voice, shaping albums alongside Janis Siegel, Nancy King and Norma Winstone (with select appearances by vibraphonist Gary Burton). Foremost among these stellar pairings is 1995’s Beautiful Love with the great Jay Clayton, newly remastered and rereleased. It is simultaneously a masterwork of individual artistry and of shared respect and ingenuity.

All 10 of the playlist’s standards have been endlessly mined by other singers, other players, yet they are infused with such interpretive verve, such reciprocal brilliance, that even the hoariest among them sound entirely fresh. To single out specific tracks, whether by Cole Porter, Sammy Cahn, Rodgers and Hart or Wayne Shorter, is to diminish the album’s holistic wondrousness. Suffice it to say that Clayton’s inspired, dynamic voicings are propelled, caressed, underlined and otherwise defined by Hersch with astounding imagination, sensitivity and veneration. She responds in kind. Musically speaking, they do indeed share a most beautiful love.

Preview, buy or download songs from the album Beautiful Love by Fred Hersch and Jay Clayton on iTunes.

Originally Published