Fred Hersch


Fred Hersch is a brilliant pianist and composer. During a career spanning more than 20 years, he has received nearly universal acclaim for his ability to re-invent the standard jazz repertoire. He arrived in New York in 1977 and began working as a sideman with such musicians as Stan Getz, Joe Henderson, Toots Thielemans, Art Farmer, Jane Ira Bloom, Charlie Haden and Eddie Daniels. He has also worked with vocalists such as the Manhattan Transfer's Janis Siegel, jazz legend Andy Bey and classical soprano Dawn Upshaw, and gained a strong reputation as leader of his own groups. Mr. Hersch taught at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston1980-86, and has since been on the faculty at the New School in New York. As a soloist he has given concerts at festivals and concert halls throughout North America and Europe. Mr. Hersch has released eighteen albums as a solo artist or bandleader; two received Grammy Award Nominations. He has co-led another 20 albums and played as sideman or featured soloist on more than 80 other recordings. In 1996, he recorded Passion Flower, an acclaimed tribute to the great Billy Strayhorn.  He is a visible and passionate spokesman and fundraiser for AIDS research and relief agencies and has produced and played on two albums that raised more than $150,000 for AIDS services and education. Mr. Hersch’s recordings include Songs Without Words (Nonesuch, 2001), a three CD set containing mostly solo piano recordings and honored by the French Academie du Jazz as 2001Disc of the Year. His album The Fred Hersch Trio: Live at the Village Vanguard (Palmetto, 2003) features compositions by Hersch, Monk and Shorter and showcases his new trio (Drew Gress, bass & Nasheet Waits, drums). Mr Hersch has had a two-piano partnership with concert pianist Jeffrey Kahane, has given duo concerts with violinist Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg, and has appeared as a soloist with leading orchestras in the U.S. and Europe. In 2003-04 he will tour with concert pianist Christopher O'Riley in a program entitled “Heard Fresh: Music for Two Pianos.” In 1999 Hersh’s dance score for Out Someplace, commissioned by The Doris Duke Foundation's Millennium Project for the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, was premiered at the Kennedy Center. His solo piano composition, 24 Variations on a Bach Chorale, received its world premiere by Jeffrey Kahane in San Francisco in November, 2002. Songs & Lullabyes, a duo CD with vocalist Norma Winstone comprised of 11 compositions by Hersch with lyrics by Winstone (with guest Gary Burton on vibes), will be released in March 2003 on the Sunnyside label. Leaves of Grass, Hersch's multi-media full-evening work inspired by the poetry of Walt Whitman for two voices (Kurt Elling and Norma Winstone) and an ensemble of eight instruments, will be premiered in April. Fred Hirsch appeared on March 12, 1998 in solo recital at the Kennedy Center Terrace Theater as part of the Art Tatum Piano Panorama.

February 2003
Photo of Fred Hersch