There are few who can speak eloquently in both the classical and jazz arenas the way that Fred Hersch has managed to do, over a career spanning some 20 years. As an honors graduate of the prestigious New England Conservatory and recent beneficiary of a Guggenheim Fellowship, the pianist has appeared as a soloist with a number of U.S. and European orchestras, as well as in duo settings with violinist Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg. His jazz credentials include stints with a number of prominent leaders, including Joe Henderson, Stan Getz, Gary Burton, and Eddie Daniels. But this is only half the story: Hersch's own catalog boasts an array of pleasures, from solo discs to a series of songbooks featuring the works of Thelonious Monk, Billy Strayhorn, and Johnny Mandel.
Making use of one of jazz music's most viable formats, Hersch's strongest mainstream efforts are to be found in a trio setting. The latest edition of this ensemble, which currently includes bassist Drew Gress and drummer Nasheet Waits, debuted on the Palmetto label with the January release of Live at the Village Vanguard. In 10 expansive selections, Hersch and his men prove to be masters of dynamics and texture, with a classy and refined approach that raises the bar for piano trio jazz.