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: Plays Rodgers and Hammerstein

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.

Fred Hersch has absorbed the whole history of jazz piano, starting with ragtime, running up to the present. Of course, he’s hardly the first person to do this, but what makes Hersch so exceptional is how inventive he is at paying tribute to his forebears while making a full-fledged musical statement of his own. You can tell the wheels are always turning in his head as he moves through these pieces, deconstructing familiar melodies via intensely personal improvisations, and his ability to separate what his left and right hands are doing is so amazing that at times you might think there are really two players at work here.Hersch’s homage to Rodgers & Hammerstein is a solo shot. A truly gorgeous one, where he deftly crafts moods of warmth and high emotion. His version of “Loneliness of Evening” is so reflective and heart-rending that you need not know the lyrics to get the gist of the tune. “Surrey with the Fringe on Top” gets a fragmented abstract treatment. Whatever the approach exceptional expressive sensitivity reigns throughout.