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Piano (Visiting Faculty Artist)
CONTACT INFORMATION: www.fredhersch.com
Pianist and composer Fred Hersch has earned a place among the foremost jazz artists in the world today. He is widely recognized for his ability to reinvent the standard jazz repertoire – investing time-tested classics with keen insight, fresh ideas and extraordinary technique – while steadfastly creating his own unique body of works. Described by The New Yorker as “a poet of a pianist” and The New York Times as “a master who plays it his way,” Hersch’s many accomplishments include a 2003 Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship for composition, a Rockefeller Fellowship for a composition residency at the Bellagio Center in Italy and two Grammy nominations for Best Jazz Instrumental Performance. He has recorded more than two dozen albums as a solo artist or bandleader, co-led another twenty sessions and appeared as a sideman or featured soloist on some eighty further recordings.
As a solo pianist, Hersch may well have more unaccompanied recordings to his credit than any other jazz pianist of his generation. February of 2006 saw the release of Fred Hersch in Amsterdam: Live at the Bimhuis (Palmetto Records), a solo CD that features an eclectic program of Hersch at his pianistic peak. Its release has led to Hersch becoming the first pianist in the 70-year history of the Village vanguard to play an entire week solo. The New York Times‘ Ben Ratliff acknowledges that, “Hersch has honed a solo piano concept second to none in jazz.” Ed Hazell, writing in Jazziz, stated that “few jazz pianists have ever struck as beguiling a balance between technique, feeling, insight and imagination…Hersch’s engagement with each of these songs is so complete that he evokes the sort of secret meanings words cannot.” And the Los Angeles Times said: “There isn’t a false note–technically or emotionally…a tribute to Hersch’s unerring ability to play music that is as intelligent as it is touching, as virtuosic as it is swinging.” Six previous solo piano recordings include Let Yourself Go, an eclectic recital recorded live at Boston’s famed Jordan Hall, and Thelonious: Fred Hersch Plays Monk, which the Washington Post declared “a landmark album.” And The New York Times says, “Mr. Hersch has honed a solo piano concept second to none in jazz.”
Other recent CD releases include Fred’s composition “Leaves of Grass” (Palmetto Records, 2005) featuring vocalists Kurt Elling and Kate McGarry and an instrumental octet; and a disc with soprano Renée Fleming (Decca Records, 2005) The Fred Hersch Trio + 2 (Palmetto, 2004), featuring trumpeter Ralph Alessi and tenor release,saxophonist Tony Malaby in addition to Hersch’s current trio members bassist Drew Gress and drummer Nasheet Waits, Live at the Village Vanguard (Palmetto, 2003).
Hersch has been featured on CBS Sunday Morning with Dr. Billy Taylor and National Public Radio programs such as Morning Edition, Fresh Air, Studio 360, Prairie Home Companion, Jazz From Lincoln Center, Jazz Set, and Marian McPartland’s popular Piano Jazz. In addition to his Guggenheim Fellowship, Hersch has been awarded grants from The National Endowment for the Arts and Meet the Composer, as well as four composition residencies at the prestigious MacDowell Colony. He is a four-time winner of a Gay and Lesbian American Music Award (GLAMA). A respected educator, Hersch was a faculty member at the New England Conservatory for ten years, and has taught at The New School and Manhattan School of Music. He is currently a visiting professor at Western Michigan University.