Pianist Fred Hersch Celebrates 60th Birthday with an Array of Fall Event
* World Premiere of Rooms of Light: The Life of Photographs (A Song Cycle)Featuring Words by Mary Jo Salter at Peak Performances @ Montclair State University October 15–18
* Birthday Week with his Trio at the Village Vanguard October 20–25
* New CD Fred Hersch Solo and Solo Performances August 21 at Rubin Museum of Art & October 29 at NEC’s Jordan Hall, Boston
"A master who plays it his way...” — The New York Times
“When it comes to the art of solo piano in jazz there are currently two classes of performers: Fred Hersch and everybody else.” – Dan Bilawsky, All About Jazz
"4.5 stars… a program so rich you'll want to savor it in increments, enjoying its bittersweetness and poignancy..." – John Corbett, DownBeat on Fred Hersch Solo
Fred Hersch, “a pianist, composer and conceptualist of rare imaginative power” (Nate Chinen, NY Times), celebrates his60th birthday with the world premiere of Rooms of Light: The Life of Photographs (A Song Cycle), a week at the Village Vanguard with his Trio, a new CD Fred Hersch Solo, solo performances in NYC and Boston, and a trio performance at the Chicago Jazz Festival.
Hersch, who turns 60 on October 21, kicks off the celebration next Friday, August 21 at 7 p.m. with a solo performance previewing the new CD (out September 4 on Palmetto) at the Rubin Museum of Art. He then heads to the Chicago Jazz Festival for a performance with his superlative trio on Friday, September 4.
The world premiere of Rooms of Light: The Life of Photographs (A Song Cycle), commissioned byPeak Performances, takes place October 15 - 18 at the Alexander Kasser Theater at Montclair State University. Hersch collaborated with acclaimed poet/playwright Mary Jo Salter to create the show, a staged song cycle which explores the impact that photography has had on us–how this most accessible of art forms has enriched, compromised and complicated our lives since its invention in 1827. Directed by Daniella Topol, Rooms of Light stars singers Jonathan Estabrooks, Rebecca Faulkenberry, Kathryn Guthrie, Gabielle Starvelli and Michael Winther; the Fred Hersch Ensemble with Sam Sadigursky and Bruce Williamson, woodwinds; Laura Seaton, violin; Lois Martin, viola; Jody Redhage, cello; Matt Aronoff, bass; Ross Pederson, drums; and Fred Hersch, piano. Gregg Kallor serves as music director/conductor and lighting is by Eric Cornwell. This is Fred Hersch’s third commission from Peak Performances.
Hersch continues his birthday celebration with a week with his trio at the Village Vanguard fromOctober 20 – 25. Joining Hersch are long-time bandmates: bassist John Hébert and drummer Eric McPherson.
Hersch returns to New England Conservatory for a solo concert celebrating his new recording Fred Hersch Solo at Jordan Hall on Thursday, October 29. The recital concert celebrates both his birthday and the 40th anniversary of his arrival at NEC as a student. The concert is free and open to the public.
As an improviser of unsurpassed lyricism and technique Hersch is at his most intimate and revealing in a solo setting. Fred Hersch Solo, slated for worldwide release by Palmetto Records on September 4, 2015, has already been heralded by John Corbett in DownBeat as “a program so rich you'll want to savor it in increments, enjoying its bittersweetness and poignancy."
You can download the full album via the links below:
In many ways, Solo distills the essence of Hersch’s pianistic expression. Recorded in a jewel-like Catskills church at the 2014 Windham Chamber Music Festival, the set evolves with a compelling internal emotional logic all its own, flowing through Hersch’s familiar solo touchstones (Jobim, Ellingtonia, Monk, originals) that turn into vessels for his supremely graceful invention. His 10th solo recording, Fred Hersch Solo joins an illustrious collection of albums that started with his riveting 1994 addition to Concord Jazz’s Live at Maybeck series.
“I firmly believe this may be the all-around best solo album I’ve ever done,” Hersch says. “I liked the piano and the environment of playing in a small wooden church just big enough to get some reverberance. When I consider where I was in terms of the precarious state of my health in 2008 this feels like such a strong and focused statement. Everything has come together going into my 60th year.”
Born and raised in Cincinnati, Hersch studied music theory and composition in elementary school and sang in high school theater productions. It wasn’t until he started attending Grinnell College in Iowa that he turned on to real jazz when he was introduced to the music of John Coltrane, Pharoah Sanders, Miles Davis and Chick Corea. But the jazz bug really bit him when he went home for the holidays and happened into a Cincinnati jazz spot. He ended up dropping out of school and earned his stripes on local bandstands, with veteran musicians serving as his professors. After honing his chops for 18 months he enrolled at New England Conservatory to work with jazz piano legend Jaki Byard and made the move to New York City in 1977 after earning a BM with Honors.
Hersch quickly gained recognition as a superlative band-mate, performing and recording with masters such as Stan Getz, Joe Henderson, Billy Harper, Lee Konitz, Art Farmer, Gary Burton, Toots Thielemans, and many others. Since releasing his first album under his own name he’s recorded in an array of settings, including a series of captivating solo recitals, duos with vocalists Janis Siegel and Norma Winstone, and ambitious projects. As an educator, Hersch has shepherded some of the finest young pianists in jazz through his teaching at NEC, Juilliard, Rutgers and the New School. A leading force in galvanizing the jazz community in the fights against HIV/AIDS, he produced 1994’s Last Night When We Were Young for Classical Action: Performing Arts Against AIDS, an album featuring the likes of Bobby Watson, Phil Woods, George Shearing, Mark Murphy and Gary Burton.
He’s gained the most widespread visibility as the leader of a series of remarkable trios. From his first session with Marc Johnson and Joey Baron, he’s pushed at the limits of lyricism and temporal fluidity with similarly searching improvisers. He has consistently drawn deeply from the music’s most refined players while forging his own approach. He considers his current trio, with John Hébert and Eric McPherson, as his best to date.
Hersch will have his Jazz at Lincoln Center debut in January 2016 in the Appel Room with the program Fred Hersch & Friends: Intimate Moments featuring encounters with Anat Cohen, Julian Lage, Sullivan Fortner, and Stefon Harris. He is also busy at work on a memoir (working title: Good Things Happen Slowly) for Crown/Random House due in stores Spring 2017.