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Fred Hersch, {open book}

Discussion in 'Music Reviews' started by Carraway, Oct 24, 2017.

  1. Carraway

    Carraway AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    586
    Artist: Fred Hersch
    Title: {open book}
    Year of Release: 2017
    Record Label: Palmetto
    Genre: Jazz

    I bought the LP version of Fred Hersh's new solo album, {open book}, which arrived today. I've had the MP3 files for a couple days. I decided to spring for the vinyl version for an extra $2.50 since Amazon included mp3 files. That helped as the LP has one less track.

    First the music. I'm still evaluating it, but I'm liking it quite a bit so far. I've not heard a Hersch album I didn't like, however. This one is solo piano, and the longest track is an improvisation at over 19 minutes. It's quite fascinating to hear Hersch move between ideas and styles, from long fluid melodic lines, to Monk-like percussive accents, and then intertwining. Of the other tracks, so far I quite like the rendition of Golson's "Whisper Not"--one of my favorite standards--and Monk's "Eronel." Throughout all the tracks, Hersh's interpretation and emotional connection to the music is prominent. It's akin to quietly taking a seat in an empty concert hall and listening to him play without reservation.

    As for the recording, so far I think the it's good. The piano is fairly wide and panned from player's perspective bass left and treble right, but there's what I believe is a bit of space from the venue's natural acoustics. (According to the notes one track on the LP and two in the digital versions were recorded during a concert in Seoul, South Korea. The others were recorded in the same hall without an audience). Overall, it's reasonably natural sounding to me.

    So far my only real criticism is with the LP's pressing. It's one of only two new release vinyl pressings I've bought since the early 90s, and even on the first play there was more surface noise than I expected, as well as a good sized pop. Thus I'm slightly disappointed in the pressing itself. (The other new release LP I bought in the last year or so was Mehldau's Blues and Ballads, which has no issues). I don't think it's bad enough to return, but I'm glad it came with Amazon's "Autorip" mp3s. Sure I'd have liked higher res files, but they'll do. Also, I don't know what other retailers are selling the LP version, but the album itself did not come with a download card.

    Overall, then, I'm impressed so far with the album, and especially with the rather deep insight into Hersch's playing. I'd have liked the quality of the vinyl pressing to be a bit better, but I think anyone interested in Hersch or contemporary solo jazz piano really should listen to this one.

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