He’s the man who taught Brad Mehldau and The Bad Plus’s Ethan Iverson. He’s the man who had written a symphony by the time he was 12. He’s the man who turned a horrendous AIDS-related illness which included dementia and a two-month-long coma into a multi-media work called My Coma Dreams.
But most important of all, Fred Hersch is one of the premier pianists of modern jazz, bringing profound new insights and depth not only to the great American Songbook but in his own compositions, and playing them not only in trio and sometimes bigger format but also as a solo pianist.
It is as a solo pianist that we have a rare chance to hear the New Yorker on Sunday when he plays at The Edge Arts Centre in Much Wenlock.
Last year’s CD Alone At The Vanguard, on Palmetto Records, included his own dedications to Bill Frisell, Lee Konitz and Robert Schumann, as well as standards by Thelonious Monk and Sonny Rollins, and was universally acclaimed.
Jazz Times magazine has said: “Solo Hersch is a complete, self-sufficient, uniquely pure art form.”
If there are still tickets left, I would urge you to make the trip to Shropshire to hear this extraordinary musician in a lovely intimate venue.
Next up in The Edge’s jazz programme later this month is Christine Tobin’s W B Yeats, Sailing To Byzantium project in quintet setting, but you can hear Christine in a trio this Sunday at The Red Lion, in Warstone Lane, Jewellery Quarter.
The gig is a Birmingham Jazz one, and Christine will be compiling her set list from Leonard Cohen’s songs, of which she is a superb interpreter. Phil Robson will be on guitar and Dave Whitford on bass.
Christine Tobin’s A Thousand Kisses Deep is at 7.45pm. Tickets on the door and more information on www.birminghamjazz.co.uk
Before all that, tonight (Thursday), in the second of the monthly Jazzlines sessions at the Bramhall Building, University of Birmingham, pianist Reuben James, a founding member of the Jazzlines Ensemble, leads a quartet with the very fine Jay Phelps on trumpet. It’s part of Black History Month and starts at 5pm. Entry is free.
And on Tuesday The Spotted Dog in Digbeth has an outstanding band lined up. The Hans Koller/Jeff Williams Quartet features the German pianist and composer long resident in this country with the drummer who splits his time between London and New York. Completing the foursome are Mike Fletcher on saxophone and Nick Jurd on bass.
The music starts at 9pm, and a hat goes round for donations. More at www.blambirmingham.co.uk and in the Jazz @ The Spotted Dog facebook page.
Other gigs this week:
Tonight (Thursday): Steve Ajao Quartet, Bearwood Corks Club, 9pm, £5. More at www.bearwoodjazz.co.uk
Friday: Gary Reader’s Moja Quartet, 9pm. The Ort Cafe, Balsall Heath, Free. More at www.blambirmingham.co.uk
Sunday: Out Of The Blue Big Band, 2pm, Botanical Gardens, Westbourne Road,
Birmingham. Admission to gardens £7, concessions available.