Fred Hersch

Live at Maybeck Recital Hall, Vol. 31

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Fred Hersch's first solo recital came about thanks to -- what else? -- the Maybeck Recital Hall series, which devotes Vol. 31 to his survey of several well-worn pop standards, a few jazz tunes, and a couple of originals. Luckily, Hersch likes to use a percussive form of counterpoint often enough to juice things up, a plan that launches "The Song Is You" and "Everything I Love" in unorthodox fashion. "In Walked Bud," an inventive takeoff on Monk's own stabbing manner, is also clever in its spiky, asymmetrical way. The opening and ending of "Haunted Heart" work well with a nostalgic drone in the bass, and Ornette Coleman's "Ramblin'" gets a gospel-influenced workout that fans of Keith Jarrett's early solo concerts would appreciate. As for the two Hersch originals, "Heartsong" is ebullient and romantic at the same time, while "Sarabande" concentrates solely upon lyricism. In other words, another classy, technically unimpeachable, spotlessly recorded outing in the Maybeck series.

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