The Fred Hersch Trio transcends jazz tradition while nestling snugly within it | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

Music » Concert Preview

The Fred Hersch Trio transcends jazz tradition while nestling snugly within it


Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe


Mainstream jazz is very often an art of refinement: it’s a well-defined tradition with set parameters within which the most skilled players balance chops, improvisational elegance, and subtle boundary pushing. Those qualities can make it feel insular, but pianist Fred Hersch has developed such brilliant chemistry with bassist John Hébert and drummer Eric McPherson that the simpatico trio’s music feels writ large even as the outfit cleaves to an introverted attack—the group transcends jazz tradition while nestling snugly within it. Last year the trio released Sunday Night at the Vanguard (Palmetto), its second live album recorded at the famed New York jazz mecca and one that captures a band moving as a single organism even within the head-solo-head format of postbop. As usual, lesser-known standards—including a brisk, airy reading of the Richard Rodgers tune “A Cockeyed Optimist” and a de rigueur take on Monk’s “We See”—are complemented by a slew of Hersch originals, such as the multivalent “Serpentine” and the hurtling “Blackwing Palomino.” The group won’t knock you down with the force of its playing, but it can certainly floor you with its exquisite touch and high-level interaction.   v

Support Independent Chicago Journalism: Join the Reader Revolution

We speak Chicago to Chicagoans, but we couldn’t do it without your help. Every dollar you give helps us continue to explore and report on the diverse happenings of our city. Our reporters scour Chicago in search of what’s new, what’s now, and what’s next. Stay connected to our city’s pulse by joining the Reader Revolution.

Are you in?

  Reader Revolutionary $35/month →  
  Rabble Rouser $25/month →  
  Reader Radical $15/month →  
  Reader Rebel  $5/month  → 

Not ready to commit? Send us what you can!

 One-time donation  → 

Add a comment