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Fred Hersch Trio: Sunday Night at the Vanguard

Sunday Night at the Vanguard
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    A pianist of uncommon sensitivity and elegant lyricism combined with an infinite capacity to swing, Hersch benefits greatly from a remarkably interactive, elastic rhythm section (bassist John Hebert and drummer Eric McPherson) on this intimate live recording from the hallowed subterranean space in the heart of NYC’s Greenwich Village. A followup to Hersch’s 2012 double album Alive at the Vanguard, Sunday Night includes a gentle, impressionist take on a Rodgers & Hammerstein tune (“A Cockeyed Optimist” from South Pacific), underscored by McPherson’s hip, lightly swinging pulse and Hebert’s sparse, contrapuntal approach on the bass. “The Optimum Thing” is Hersch’s clever Lennie Tristano-esque contrafact on Irvin Berlin’s “The Best Thing for You,” and his jauntily swinging “Blackwing Palomino” may be the only jazz song ever dedicated to a pencil. The trio takes a daring walk on the avant-garde side on “Calligram,” a Hersch original dedicated to French pianist-composer Benoit Delbecq, and they deliver a transcendent reading of Jimmy Rowles’ hauntingly beautiful ballad “The Peacocks.” Other highlights include a melancholic take on The Beatles’ “For No One” and a vibrant interpretation of Monk’s “We See.” There’s a brilliant bit of telepathy going on in this inspired set. 

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