June 15, 2024


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Fred Hersh’s trio in Traviso – subtlety of timbre and dynamic lightness … Videos, Photos

Treviso sounds jazz has just turned 10, as far as I have been able to see growing up.

And this year, in fact, he gave himself a great gift: the Fred Hersh trio in an Italian exclusive. The previous dates on the bill had already seen frequent sold outs, let alone the crowd on the evening of Saturday 25th in the beautiful Teatro Del Monaco, a true city lounge which in its time was the stage for Toscanini and Toti Dal Monte. A festival loved and supported by his city, definitely.

Hersh showed a very measured approach to the instrument in terms of dynamics and colors: a master of nuances, who excels in a twilight register, without denying himself incursions into lively sketches at the tip of the pen. The developments are dense and complex with a reflective and at times introverted attitude, even if immune to gloom. The intense concentration on melodic development also accounts for the inclusion in the setlist of two pieces by Ornette Coleman, the true dominator of the horizontal dimension of music.

Hersh’s restrained, ‘laid-back’ approach is compensated by the great clarity of the contribution of the two companions: Drew Gress intervenes with a full and rounded bass, which with its discreet but resolute clarity gives a solid foundation to a trio where there is a lot of air and transparency.

In fact, Joey Baron’s drums are a kaleidoscope of subtle colors that respond to the iridescence of the piano. The drumming is based on an airy game on the cymbals, accompanied by a measured work on the drums, with always soft and controlled dynamics, which add a nervous and quivering ripple to the overall beat. Worth framing is a rarefied solo by Baron with his bare hands on the drums, a true test of measure and effectiveness that many of today’s drummers should carefully study.

Hersh’s subtlety of timbre and dynamic lightness allow him to produce a highly original rendition of well-trodden standards, as well as themes apparently far from his signature: and so an Ornettian piece becomes a lively and light entertainment. A relaxed and swinging ‘Turnaround’ will follow shortly afterwards, confirming the pianist’s Colemanian penchant.

Another ‘Turnaround’, but very different from the one in Treviso: here Hersh dialogues with the young lion of the keyboard, Sullivan Fortner. Two very distant piano worlds, but the game of ‘call and response’ takes Hersh onto much more assertive terrain.

In addition to the standards of the great American Songbook, we are offered a dancing ‘Bemsha Swing’ (the pianist signed an entire Monk album years ago). Unfortunately, the diligence of Hersh, presenter and illustrator of his own varied book, failed precisely on the occasion of a splendid, intense blues which unfortunately remained nameless: in any case, ours thus produced for us the test of his jazz DNA, above all for the benefit of doubters who could have objected to an impressionistic inclination of a certain evidence.

If in the meantime you have become enticed, for once I have some good news for you: at the end of the tour (the Treviso date was the last, apparently) the trio will enter the recording studio (perhaps for Palmetto… less likely l ECM option). So put a nice ‘follow Hersh’ on your favorite streaming platform, and wait with confidence. In the meantime, enjoy this little appetizer…. Milton56

However, this adventurous Parisian video allows you to see the trio at work on the second encore also offered in Treviso: the magical ‘Somewhere’ by Leonard Bernstein, from ‘West Side Story’. There is also another version by Archie Shepp… a little different, though

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