Friday, July 09, 2010

Fred Hersch Trio - Whirl (Palmetto, 2010)

On his first recording since recovering from serious medical complications, pianist Fred Hersch sounds as vibrant and strong as ever, playing original compositions and standards with great authority on this album, supported by John Hebert on bass and Eric McPherson on drums. The music on this album is deftly played and lyrical, with the trio improvising like an organic unit with nary a mis-step. Highlights of the album were the title track, "Whirl," which begins at a rounded medium tempo before building the music's pace in a dexterous fashion and culminating in a fast and swirling trio improvisation. "Sad Poet" features a light touch, setting a dark toned and spacious groove supported by almost imperceptibly subtle bass and drums. Jaki Brayd's "Mrs. Parker of K.C. (Bird's Mother)" was featured on Eric Dolphy's wonderful Far Cry LP, and here gets a brisk and agile reading that hints at both the bop of Charlie Parker and the burgeoning freedom of Dolphy. The final track "Still Here" is dedicated to Wayne Shorter, but could just as easily be a defiant statement of purpose for Hersch. Beginning with a mid-tempo and spacious beginning, this track also features an excellent bass solo from Hebert, building a slow and patient solo. Hersch is a master ballad player, and on this album there are a few very nice examples of this aspect of his craft. "Mandevilla" has a slow vamp that it built upon and developed with the help of light percussion and skillful bass solo. "When You Lover Has Gone" has a spare tempo, with graceful solo piano building as subtle bass and drums accentuate the music. This album was elegant and thoughtful in its presentation, the trio was never flashy, but developed the melodic nature of the music in a way that was very pleasing. The music was lyrical, patient and very well performed. Whirl -

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