Fred Hersch: Sunday Night at the Vanguard
Jazz is too often portrayed as an art form defined by blazing young artists. It's true that many jazz masters reach a mid-career plateau marked by small variations on a mature style. But there's also a vanguard of players and composers who continue to refine and expand the art form in middle age and beyond, like Wayne Shorter, Chick Corea, Henry Threadgill, and piano maestro Fred Hersch, who is marking his 60th year with an astonishing creative surge. Hersch's new recording Sunday Night at the Vanguard stands as the most profound and enthralling trio statement yet by an improviser whose bands have embodied the enduring relevance of the piano-bass-and-drums format for three decades. Recorded at the storied venue that's become Hersch's second home, Sunday Night at the Vanguard unfolds with all the dramatic intensity and narrative drive that make his performances a revelatory experience. Ebulliently playful and ravishingly lyrical, rhythmically elastic and harmonically exploratory, the trio plays with an extraordinary level of trust, assurance, high-wire poise and musicality throughout the set. "The thing that's beautiful about Eric is his touch," Hersch says. "He's the straight man and John is the loose guy, though sometimes they reverse it."