Although a major figure in American jazz, pianist Fred Hersch has been an all-too-rare visitor to Scotland, and this concert afforded a very welcome opportunity to hear him play in one of his signature settings, solo piano.
Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh
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In an era dominated by rock-influenced pianists, Hersch remains something of a classicist, both literally (he trained in classical music before turning to jazz) and in a jazz context.
That strong classical influence – as well as his impeccable technique – was evident throughout his opening set, dedicated to his own notably varied compositions.
He touched most directly on a jazz idiom in Dream of Monk, in which he developed his own original ideas around an invented Monk-ish theme.
The opening Whirl and the closing Stuttering both lived up to their descriptive titles and underlined the strongly developed sense of structure that underpins all of his playing.
The Walt Whitman-inspired At the Close of Day and the Schumann-inspired Pastorale revealed a more tender, but no less disciplined facet of his music.
Having demonstrated his considerable skills as a composer, Hersch brought the same acute musical intelligence and compelling keyboard skills to a range of interpretations in the second set.
They included a couple of thoughtful medleys, close to the melody readings of Gershwin’s Embraceable You and Lennon and McCartney’s For No One, and more elaborate extrapolations on Monk’s Let’s Cool One and Benny Golson’s Whisper Not, before concluding with his own delicate Valentine.
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Weather for Edinburgh
Thursday 23 May 2013
Temperature: 5 C to 10 C
Wind Speed: 24 mph
Wind direction: North
Temperature: 5 C to 13 C
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Wind direction: North east