Fred Hersch

Fred Hersch, a select member of jazz’s pianist pantheon, is an influential creative force. He has shaped jazz’s course through more than three decades of his work as an improviser and composer, teacher, bandleader, collaborator, and record artist. Vanity Fair has called him “the most innovative jazz pianist over the past decade”, “an elegant force in musical invention” (The L.A. Times), and “a living legend” (The New Yorker). Hersch is a fifteen-time Grammy nominee. He has been honored with jazz’s most prestigious awards including the 2016 Doris Duke Artist, 2016 Jazz Pianists of the Year, and the 2018 Jazz Pianists of the Year from the Jazz Journalists Association. Even though good things can happen slowly, Hersch’s memoir from 2017 demonstrates. Despite this, he is able to enjoy the praises and admiration of critics, peers, and the general public. His expressive interpretations and creative creativity have been a hallmark of his career. He can be heard solo, in the lead of one of jazz’s most influential trios, or in lively dialogue with his highly tuned duo partners. Hersch has more than three-dozen albums under his belt as either a leader or coleader. Each of his highly anticipated releases receives a lot of international praise and awards. 2018’s Live In Europe (Palmetto), his latest album, features his long-standing trio. It documents one extraordinary evening in Brussels. This is a significant praise for an ensemble that plays at such an impressive level. Hersch was joined by John Hebert, bassist, and Eric McPherson, drummer for the past decade. The 2018 DownBeat Critics Poll voted this trio the #2 Jazz Group. This is due to its unique ability and creativity to explore a variety of styles and approaches, while still maintaining deep emotions and an exhilarating spark in invention. The previous Palmetto albums, Sunday Night at Vanguard 2016 and Floating 2014, were nominated in the Best Jazz Solo or Best Jazz Album categories for Grammy Awards. Hersch also received his sixth Grammy nomination in 2014 for his solo on “Duet” (from Free Flying), a duo album that featured guitarist Julian Lage and earned a rare 5-star rating by DownBeat. Hersch is a highly responsive collaborator who has formed duo partnerships with many talented artists such as Anat Cohen and Bill Frisell, Esperanza spalding and Julian Lage, and singers Kurt Elling and Kate McGarry. His trio and duo adventures can be as exploratory and versatile as they are, but Hersch’s solo performances show the unmatched range and emotional diversity that his artistry offers. JazzTimes has called his unaccompanied playing “complete, self-sufficient and uniquely pure art form,” while All About Jazz has stated that Hersch was the first solo pianist to perform a week-long engagement in New York’s 75-year-old Village Vanguard. The Grammy-nominated Alone at the Vanguard was his second solo performance there. It is one of five recordings he has made at the legendary New York City club. Open Book, his 2017 Palmetto album, was his most intimate and revealing solo performance and was nominated to win two 2018 Grammy Awards. His acclaimed memoir Good Things Happen Slowly (Crown Archetype Books/Random House) was released at the same time. The book tells the story of his life as a musician and a candid account of his triumphs and struggles as an openly gay, HIV-positive musician. The book was published in the Sunday New York Times and on NPR’s Fresh Air. It was also praised by the Jazz Journalists Association as the 2018 Book on Jazz of the year. His story is also told in the feature documentary, The Ballad Of Fred Hersch. It premiered at the Full Frame Film Festival to sold out houses and is now streaming on Vimeo. Hersch is well-known for his play, but he has also been acclaimed for his writing. He was awarded a 2003 Guggenheim Fellowship in composition. He also created Leaves of Grass in 2003, a large-scale setting of Walt Whitman’s poetry for two voices (Kurt Elling u0026 Kate McGarry) as well as an instrumental octet. Leaves of Grass was selected to open Jazz at Lincoln Center’s 2017 season at the Appel room. Hersch’s 2010 visionary theatrical project, My Coma Dreams was praised by the New York Times Sunday Magazine. The piece, which featured 11 musicians and one actor/singer, was filmed at Columbia University and released on a Palmetto DVD in 2014. Hersch has been a tireless fundraiser and spokesman for AIDS services over the past two decades. He has performed and produced four benefit records and numerous concerts for charities such as Classical Action: Performing Arts Against AIDS, Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS. His efforts have raised over $300,000. His contributions have raised more than $300,000. Hersch is a dedicated educator and has taught at The Juilliard School, The New School, The New School, The New School, The Manhattan School of Music, and New England Conservatory. He is currently Rutgers University’s Visiting Artist. He is a Grinnell College honorary doctorate and Northern Kentucky University honorary doctorate. Hersch’s influence is widely felt by a new generation jazz pianists, including former students Brad Mehldau, Ethan Iverson, and Jason Moran. Jason Moran said that Fred at the piano was like LeBron James on a basketball court. From

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