Moving through the endless highways and by-ways of jazz, one can't help but think about the iconic influences and legends who have made America's music what it is today. More importantly, we should also remember the smoke-filled rooms, dance halls, clubs and jook joints where history was made and a thing called jazz found its mark in American society. While examining that history and the many flavors attached to the genre, there is an institution that stands alone in a category all its own. What began as a forum for poetry reading almost 70 years ago, has since become one of the most well-known jazz venues around today. Known as The Village Vanguard, it may well hold the captive spirit of jazz in its midst. In fact, during its existence almost every name imaginable has played the club at one time or the other. Without a doubt, the venue is one of the last bastions of its kind continually speaking the gospel according to jazz. Located in New York City's Greenwich Village, The Village Vanguard rises to the occasion once again with the release of 'The Fred Hersch Trio Live at the Village Vanguard.'
This is Fred's debut CD for Palmetto Records, and he comes out stroking on all cylinders. Best known for his mind-boggling solo releases, Hersch returns to an environment he is very familiar with, as a leader in a trio setting. To accompany him into the hallowed halls of The Village Vanguard, Fred has invited drummer Nasheet Waits and bassist Drew Gress along for this jazz activated encounter of the best kind. Gress has worked with the pianist before. Nasheet is best known for his work with pianist Jason Moran. In a career spanning 25 years, Fred has been twice nominated for a Grammy. His trios have also become much sought after commodities in locales throughout the world. During his multi-faceted career, Hersh has worked with Joe Henderson, Stan Getz, Toots Thielmans, Gary Burton, Charlie Haden, Jane Ira Bloom, Andy Bey, Art Farmer and the New York String Quartet. In addition, he has served as an educator at the prestigious New England Conservatory. For jazz connoisseurs who love what he does best, Fred's talent as an accompanist, composer, soloist and artisan are well worth encountering at every opportunity.
'Live at the Village Vanguard' was recorded in May 2002. At first glance, the name Fred Hersch did not ring a bell with me; however, once I listened to the recording, I was struck by the CD's depth. I am impressed with the breadth of his stylized approach as well. Fred fills every track with percussive rhythms, harmonic nuances and lyrical melodies. Through ten phenomenal tracks of creativity, Fred pushes the envelope of dynamic interpretation. Some of the highlights include cuts influenced by Thelonious Monk, Wayne Shorter, Sammy Cahn and Irving Kahal. Fred augments those with six of his original compositions. Through ten compelling tracks of musical delight, there is an orchestrated story that elevates the consciousness of jazz to a higher level of understanding. The elements of bebop and post bob are prized ingredients throughout this exquisite journey. For me, the only thing missing was the actual live recorded experience at The Village Vanguard.
'Fred Hersch Live at the Village Vanguard' is a remarkable CD. It brings many of the influences and traditions of jazz to the forefront. In signing Fred Hersch, Palmetto Records continues a long-standing practice of presenting some of the finest musicians heard today. Without their foresight, America's only original art form could very well disappear. Jazz music embodies the intuitive spirit of creativity, and is reflective of a history rich in culture. In recording his CD at The Village Vanguard, Fred Hersch paid a fitting tribute to an institution steeped in tradition. This is a CD that will titillate your fancy and satisfy the insatiable desire for quality listening pleasure.