Among the Greatest Solo Piano Feats
I have never written a review before, but had to rush to this album's defense after seeing Haydeo's quick and uncalled-for dismissal. This album is not an "embarrassment to jazz," instead, it leads the great march forward into new territory by seeking textures and tones previously unexplored in the idiom. In "Aria," for example, an Ivan Lins-imitating track, Hersch plays the melody in his right hand, a Brazillian bass line in his left hand and a comping pattern in between his two hands. On the second disc, Hersch's reharminization of Ellington's classic "Mood Indigo" is played with such a sparkling touch, that I would call it one of the most beautiful tracks I've ever heard. The brooding track "So in Love" is exquisitely paced, heart-wrenching, and heartfelt, taking the classic Cole Porter tune to a sincerity rarely imagined. In addition to his musical creativity,, Hersch used a unique recording system in which speakers were instantly fed back into the studio to provide a concert hall-like environment which results in a truly remarkable aural experience listening back to the piano. What might make an inexperienced listener like Haydeo uncomfortable with this music is that Hersch brings elements of classical music into his solo piano style (as the album title, a not-so-veiled reference to Mendelssohn would indicate), so on first listen in might not sould like "jazz" to the untrained ear. The improvisation on this album, however, is stellar in every sense, and if you're anything like me, this will be one of the albums that you are putting in your CD player over and over again.