Asian-American baritone saxophonist Fred Ho has been a champion of freedom and expressionism in modern creative jazz for some time. A continuing battle with cancer has inspired him to assemble the Green Monster Big Band, with reference to the famed left-field wall at Fenway Park in Boston, but more directly related to the huge sound and diverse ideas this juggernaut ensemble represents. Ho is influenced by the '60s big bands, television or movie themes, and the psychedelic rock he grew up with, all present on this ambitious program.
Working together since 1978, the partnership of Zorn and Frith is one of the most enduring musical partnerships in the downtown scene. Their periodic duo concerts have always been special events in themselves, but when it happens in celebration of Zorn's 50th Birthday, it takes on even greater meaning. Two masters of improvisation meet head to head in the redhot crucible of Tonic for an hour of telepathic communication and exploration, and you are there.
The duo offers the most intimate dialogue between two musicians: a time when each musician himself up, and dig deep inside himself to express a melody inspired improvisation on the other, this is so magical. This magic has proved the first time that Nico Gori has performed with Fred Hersch. The two musicians met for the first time the North Sea Jazz Festival 2010 in Holland. Nico Gori then played with the Italian pianist Stefano Bollani and Fred Hersch Trio with her two. The two were immediately attracted by the sound of the other.
With Perpetuum, Dutch pianist Edwin Berg and his band mates enter an increasingly crowded field: to wit, piano trios that seem, consciously or otherwise, to worship at the shrine of Brad Mehldau. Any number of new-ish pianists on the scene have released records ranging in quality from good to excellent—Aaron Goldberg's Worlds (Sunnyside, 2006); Florian Weber's Minsarah (Justin Time, 2006); Florian Ross's Big Fish & Small Pond (Intuition, 2007); John Chin's Blackout Conception (Fresh Sound New Talent, 2008)—in this Mehldauvian vein.
Fred Hersch grew up loving the show tunes of Rodgers & Hammerstein, so he took advantage of the opportunity to pay tribute to the songwriters. This solo piano set mixes together some standards (most notably "It Might As Well Be Spring" and "The Surrey with the Fringe On Top") with some lesser-known but worthwhile tunes, including "Loneliness of Evening" and "I Have Dreamed." Hersch's harmonically advanced yet melodic style transforms even the most unlikely tunes into high-quality jazz.
Reach up to the CD shelf and pull a handful of Fred Hersch CDS down. You'll find that the pianist has a good thing going with the Village Vanguard. Alive At The Vanguard (Palmetto Records, 2012) a stellar two CD set, and terrific solo set, Alone At the Vanguard (Palmetto Records, 2011), are Hersch's most recent recordings from the legendary venue; and now he and his trio offer up Sunday Night At the Vanguard. Hersch says this is his best trio album. Almost every artist says that about their latest—that this one's the best. But he might be right. The vote here would have gone to a studio recording, Whirl (Palmetto Records, 2010), a marvelous in-the-zone effort with this same trio—John Hebert on bass, Eric McPherson playing drums—until Sunday Night At The Vanguard rolled around.