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. Slated for release by his longtime label Palmetto on August 12, 2016, 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.
With Sunday, Hersch’s trio gracefully leapfrogs past its already daunting accomplishments. Featuring the exquisitely interactive bassist John Hébert and extraordinarily sensitive drummer Eric McPherson, the ensemble has recorded a series of critically hailed albums over the past seven years, including 2012’s Fred Hersch Trio - Alive at the Vanguard, a double album that earned France’s top jazz award, the Grand Prix du Disque, and 2014’s lavishly praised Floating, a double Grammy®-nominee (both on Palmetto).
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.”
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