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I've always though of Fred Hersch as one of the most prominent twenty-first Century pianists. I was shocked to learn that he had an HIV induced dementia in 2008. He fell into a coma for two months before regaining consciousness, during which he could not perform because of muscular atrophy. Miraculously he recovered after a year of rehab. Fred is arguably "A Cockeyed Optimist," the meaning of which is exactly what we'll experience at the beginning of The Thin Edge. This comes from his new Palmetto Records' Sunday Night at the Village Vanguard. John Hebert (b) and Eric McPherson excel. Alchemy Sound Project's Further Explorations (Artists Recording Collective 2016) follows with three girls and four guys performing "Joie De Vivre." The relatively unknown ensemble includes Erica Lindsay: saxophone; Sumi Tonooka: piano; Salim Washington: saxophone, oboe, flute, bass clarinet; David Arend: bass; Samantha Boshnack: trumpet; Willem de Koch: trombone; Max Wood: drums. Puerto Rico's Gabriel Vicéns' is next with his inner circle music Days (2016). The guitarist's group includes, among others, well-known David Sanchez on tenor and an impressive Alex Sipiagin on trumpet. Pianist Joel Weiskopf concludes this half with a cover of Bill Evans' "Time Remembered" from his new Whirlwind Recording Where Angels Fear to Tread. Joining the leader are Joe Magnarelli (tr), Andy Fusco (reeds), Doug Weiss (b) and Jaimeo Brown (d), all natives of Syracuse, New York.
Brit trumpeter Jason Palmer teams up with France's Cédric Hanriot, the pianist in this ensemble's Whirlwind Recordings' City of Poets. The group performs "The Soldier's Tale (Mode IV)," one of the titles of the nine pieces that take their origins from US author Dan Simmons' four-novel science fiction series Hyperion Cantos. Joining the group are notables Donny McCaslin on tenor, Michael Janisch (b) and Clarence Penn (d). Mike Jones follows with an uplifting and retro take on McHugh and Gaskill's "I Can't Believe (That) You're in Love with Me," from his new Capri Records' Roaring. The trio includes Mike on piano with Katie Thiroux (b) and Matt Witek (d). Newcomer to the show, Hungarian-born American pianist Laszlo Gardony, follows with a cover of the traditional (Harry Burleigh) "Motherless Child" from his 2016 Sunnyside Records' Life in Real Time. Included in the three tenor front line are John Lockwood: bass; Yoron Israel: drums; Stan Strickland: tenor saxophone, bass clarinet; Don Braden: tenor saxophone and Bill Pierce: tenor saxophone. Completing this second-half is a magnificent take on Churchill and Morey's "Some Day My Prince Will Come" - a tune resurrected from the 1937 Disney film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs - from the unique Miles Davis Sextet's 1961 Columbia recording of the same name. It's the first time Miles included saxophonist Hank Mobley in one of his releases. The recording includes Coltrane on tenor and Wynton Kelly on piano.
Charlie Haden - Jan Garbarek - Egberto Gismonti – Folk Songs – ECM 1979, one of my all-time favorites from the period, kicks off the third half with a cover of the traditional "Folk Song." The bass/tenor/guitar ensemble was among ECM founder Manfred Eicher's first recordings. Jasper Høiby's Fellow Creatures (Edition Records 2016) follows with an update of the previous group's take on the same melody. It would take a practiced ear to hear the similarity. Danish double bassist Høiby is supported by Brit's Mark Lockheart: tenor saxophone; Laura Jurd: trumpet, flugelhorn; Will Barry: piano and Scotland's Corrie Dick: drums. From friend Juan we get the final cut from Gianni Basso & Renato Sellani's Isn't It Romantic (Philology 2000) covering Benny Golson's "I Remember Clifford," a musical eulogy to the late trumpeter Clifford Brown. The duo has Basso's tenor and Sellani's piano, of whom we'll hear more in the final half.
The finale taps into jazz's unique ability to bring hearts together. Afro Blue (Smoke Sessions Records 2015) is Harold Mabern's contribution enlisting the sublime voice of Jane Monheit in a cover of Guy Wood and Robert Melin's "My One and Only Love." Mabern's regular ensemble includes Eric Alexander on tenor sax and the bass/drums tandem of John Webber and Joe Farnsworth. Our favorite Italian trumpeter Enrico Rava joins countryman co-leader Renato Sellani in a cover of Jones' "No Greater Love" from their 2001 Philology Le Cose Inutili’ [Things Unnecessary]. Honoring a request from Holladay Farms' Sally, we'll hear Nancy LaMott covering David Zippel's "Why Don't We Run Away" from Nancy's 1995 Midder Music Beautiful Baby. Renato Sellani returns with a piano solo cover of J. Russell Robinson's "Portrait of Jennie" from his 2016 Philology Sellani on Steinway. The melody comes from a 1948 fantasy film of the same name starring Joseph Cotten and Jennifer Jones. From her 1999 GRP Why Should I Care comes Diana Krall interpreting Cole Porter's "Let's Face the Music and Dance." Gregory Porter concludes this sentimental half covering Burke and Van Heusen's "But Beautiful" from his 2010 MotemaWater.
Let's have some fun!
Thanks to Music Director Serah and friends around the world for the program's content.