Pop, hot and haute culture around Seattle

The great jazz pianist Fred Hersch arrived in Seattle for a two-night appearance at our famous Jazz Alley nightclub earlier this week: April 29 and 30. We  caught him on the 30th.

I’d never heard of him, but Handsome Hunk, more into jazz than moi, was really excited. We rarely get to Jazz Alley, one of the few real night clubs in Seattle, a great venue and local treasure, so I was game.

As usual with these events, I was not disappointed. The music was interesting and varied and his trio, including bassist John Hebert and drummer Eric McPherson, proved themselves to be just as versatile and skilled as Hersch himself.

The set began with a light sprinkle of music, like a light shower before a rain, before settling into Irving Berlin’s Change Partners and Dance. This was followed by Sad Poet by Antonio Carlos Jobim. I have an especial affinity for Brazilian jazz and Jobim, so I especially enjoyed this piece. While Hersch’s interpretation was definitely Latin flavored, it still retained the more angular rhythms of contemporary music and Hersch’s style. His next piece, Floating, was quite different. The trio moved easily from sharper melodies into slower, dreamier, more down tempo music.

That’s when Herschs’ brilliance hit me: he loves the freeform of jazz so much he won’t even limit himself to one style. He has the skill and confidence to go wherever the music takes him. That journey covered a lot of ground, including pieces by Harry Warren and several by Thelonious Monk.

His musicians were every bit his equal. Hebert’s were long and full, like a clothesline of music. Even more impressive was McPherson’s drumming. He counted out the beat or banged away at the snares with equal energy. Or he could gently caress the cymbal with a gentle touch of a drumstick.

Hersch brought quite an impressive resume with him: more than 70 jazz composions, many multimedia works, and a history of collaboration with artists as diverse as Renee Fleming, Audra MacDonald and Stan Getz. This mastery and diversity was well showcased during his concert, including the skilful solo performance for his encore.

As far as I’m convered, he’s welcome back at any time.


And here’s an addendum to my previous post about Room With a View: Earlier this week, the Tony Award nominations came out, and among the nominees was the musical Aladdin. We had seen this musical when it premiered at the 5th Avenue Theatre several years ago, also during previous. I thought the book was juvenile and silly, more designed to preteens to get their sticky fingers all over the movie theaters at more Disney movies. Now, by virtue of its Best Musical nomination, it’s considered one of the best musicals of the season.

This can mean one of two things. Either the show has undergone extensive reconstructive surgery, or else it’s a reallllly bad year for Broadway musicals this year. I sincerely hope it’s the former. At the very least, I will be awaiting Room’s Broadway debut (if it comes) with a certain amount of eager curiosity.

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