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Fred Hersch/Bill Frisell: Songs We Know

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It was inevitable that these labelmates meet. Two superb interpreters, Hersch and Frisell bring their highly evolved and personal vocabularies to bear on a program of jazz standards from the great American songbook. The results are sublime, witty, and wonderful, well beyond the pale of your run-of-the-mill standards set.

The obvious comparison here is the classic duets of Jim Hall and Bill Evans (1959’s Undercurrents and 1966’s Intermodulation). While both players share a reverence for Hall and Evans, their collaboration here is more in the out-on-a-limb spirit of Chick Corea and Bobby McFerrin on Play. Frisell and Hersch don’t accompany each other in a traditional sense so much as meld together into one inspired voice. This artistic intertwining, in which they anticipate and complete each other’s statements so matter-of-factly that it seems like second nature, is perhaps best demonstrated on a delicate rendition of “Someday My Prince Will Come” and a buoyant, fugue-like approach to “Softly as in a Morning Sunrise.” Both are also inveterate romantics, as they so unashamedly demonstrate on lovely renditions of “My One and Only Love” and “It Might as Well Be Spring.”

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