[22 April 2011]
PopMatters Associate Music Editor
Jazz pianist Fred Hersch has beaten AIDS. In a miraculous story akin to Jesus healing lepers and blind people, Hersch awoke from a coma and regained his motor skills after almost losing them entirely. So whether out of sympathy or the fact that he’s just such an original musician, the legendary Village Vanguard club in New York let him play two weeks’ worth of solo shows. Rather than cherry pick his favorites from all those sets, he decided to release the last night of the run with Alone at the Village Vanguard. The reason for this is simple. When you see live jazz, the second set is usually better than the first. At the end of two weeks, Fred Hersch had the history of jazz piano tied to his fingertips. Highlights include the metropolitan tingle of “Down Home”, his admirable dedication to Robert Schumann in “Pastorale”, and an elegant reading of “Doce de Coco”. Not bad for a man who was once so close to death.