Tuesday, December 09, 2014


Internationally acclaimed jazz pianist and composer Fred Hersch has received two 2015 Grammy nominations for the Fred Hersch Trio's recent Palmetto Records CD Floating. Hersch has been nominated in the categories of Best Jazz Instrumental Album and Best Improvised Jazz Solo (You & The Night Music, Fred Hersch, soloist). The Grammy Awards ceremony will take place in Los Angeles on Sunday, February 8, 2015.

Hersch earned six previous Grammy nominations between 1993 and 2013, in the categories of Best Jazz Instrumental Performance, Best Instrumental Composition and Best Improvised Jazz Solo.

Floating featuring Hersch with his trio of bassist John Hébert and drummer Eric McPherson, has earned wide critical acclaim.

"Mr. Hersch has been making acclaimed trio releases since his debut album as a leader, 30 years ago. He hasn't made one better than this...an extravagantly beautiful new album.  The diversity of mood and color in these songs - and they do pass muster as songs, with strong melody and sensible design - is a boon to Mr. Hersch and his partners, who keep finding new routes of expression within the music. Mr. Hersch, with his fluent exposition, his rapturous clarity and his elegant assurance of touch, leads the way." - Nate Chinen, The New York Times

"As gifted younger pianists crowd the scene, Hersch, who is in his late fifties, is easing into the role of grand master with the elegance of an experienced player at the top of his game." ¬- Steve Futterman, The New Yorker

"Fred Hersch is a jazz pianist. But to qualify him as a "jazz pianist" is to reduce his large and profound skill set. More than simply a musician, Hersch uses his life as material for his music, thus giving his albums and concerts the feeling of some great project.  Hersch plays with a beautiful touch and a rare broad-ranging gift for melody, but also a unique forward motion. Floating is a gift." - Ken Micallef, NYC Jazz Record

"The trio led by pianist Fred Hersch is one of the most malleable, graceful, and exciting working bands in jazz." -  Peter Margasak, Chicago Reader

Praised in a New York Times Sunday Magazine feature as "singular among the trailblazers of their art, a largely unsung innovator of this borderless, individualistic jazz-a jazz for the 21st century," Fred Hersch balances his internationally recognized instrumental and composing skills with significant achievements as a bandleader, collaborator and theatrical conceptualist.

Hersch - who as leader or co-leader has over three dozen albums to his name - has featured himself as either a solo performer or at the helm of varied small ensembles, which in addition to his celebrated trio, include a quintet, and his unconventional Pocket Orchestra. Hersch has also collaborated with an astonishing range of instrumentalists and vocalists throughout worlds of jazz (Joe Henderson, Charlie Haden, Art Farmer, Stan Getz and Bill Frisell); classical (Renée Fleming, Dawn Upshaw, Christopher O'Riley); and Broadway (Audra McDonald). Long admired for his sympathetic work with singers, Hersch has joined with such notable jazz vocalists as Nancy King, Norma Winstone and Kurt Elling.

In 2006 Hersch became the first artist in the 75-year history of New York's legendary Village Vanguard to play a weeklong engagement as a solo pianist. His 2011 release, Alone at the Vanguard received Grammy Award nominations for Best Jazz Album and Best Improvised Jazz Solo. In 2014, Hersch garnered his sixth Grammy nomination for his solo on "Duet" from Free Flying, a duo album with guitarist Julian Lage that received a rare 5-star rating from DownBeat.

In 2003 Hersch created Leaves of Grass (Palmetto Records), a large-scale setting of Walt Whitman's poetry for voices (Kurt Elling and Kate McGarry) and an instrumental octet; the work was presented to a sold-out Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall in 2005. His acclaimed 2010 theatrical project, My Coma Dreams (based on imaginings Hersch had during a two-month coma), is a full-evening work for an actor/singer, 11 instrumentalists and animation/multimedia; it has just been released on DVD on Palmetto in honor of World AIDS Day, December 1st. A disc of his through-composed works, Fred Hersch: Concert Music 2001-2006, has been released by Naxos Records. He was the recipient of a 2003 Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship in Music Composition among his many awards and honors.

For two decades Hersch has been a passionate spokesman and fund-raiser for AIDS services and education agencies. He has produced and performed on benefit recordings and in numerous concerts for charities, including Classical Action: Performing Arts Against AIDS and Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. He has also been a keynote speaker and performer at international medical conferences in the U.S. and Europe.

He is currently a member of the Jazz Studies faculty of New England Conservatory and of Rutgers University. Hersch's influence has been widely felt on a new generation of jazz pianists, from former students Brad Mehldau and Ethan Iverson to his colleague Jason Moran, who has said, "Fred at the piano is like LeBron James on the basketball court. He's perfection."

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