(WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass.) – Jazz pianist Fred Hersch, a multiple Grammy Award nominee and one of the most critically acclaimed soloists of the last 30 years, performs on Friday, February 3, 2012, at 8 p.m. in Chapin Hall on the Williams College campus. Hersch teaches a master class the same day at 1 p.m. Both free events are open to the public.
Proclaimed by Vanity Fair magazine, “the most arrestingly innovative pianist in jazz over the last decade or so,” Fred Hersch balances his internationally recognized instrumental skills with significant achievements as a composer, bandleader, and theatrical conceptualist, as well as remaining an in-demand collaborator with other noted bandleaders and vocalists.
As a solo pianist (he was the first artist in the 75-year history of New York’s legendary Village Vanguard to play week-long engagements as a solo pianist – his second featured run is documented on the 2011 release, Alone at the Vanguard); as leader of a widely praised trio whose Whirl found its way onto numerous 2010 best-recordings-of-the-year lists; and as the impetus behind the ambitious 2011 production, My Coma Dreams, a full-evening work for 11 instruments, actor/singer and animation/multimedia — Hersch has fully lived up to the approbation of the New York Times which, in a featured Sunday Magazine article, praised him as “singular among the trailblazers of their art, a largely unsung innovator of this borderless, individualistic jazz – a jazz for the 21st century.”
Hersch is nominated for two 2012 Grammy Awards for Alone at the Vanguard – for Best Jazz Album and Best Improvised Jazz Solo; these are his fourth and fifth nominations.
In addition to his more than three-dozen recordings as a leader/co-leader, Hersch’s numerous awards include a 2003 Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship for composition, and a Grammy nomination for Best Instrumental Composition, as well as two Grammy nominations for Best Jazz Instrumental Performance.
Hersch has worked as a solo performer and at the helm of varied small ensembles, which in addition to his trio, include a quintet, as well as his Pocket Orchestra, featuring an unconventional line-up of piano, trumpet, voice, and percussion.
Hersch’s career as a performer has been greatly enhanced by his composing activities, a vital part of nearly all of his live concerts and recordings. In 2003, Mr. Hersch created Leaves of Grass (Palmetto Records), a large-scale setting of Walt Whitman’s poetry for two voices (Kurt Elling and Kate McGarry) and an instrumental octet; the work was presented in March 2005 in a sold-out performance at Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall as part of a six-city US tour. More than 70 of his jazz compositions have been recorded by Hersch and by numerous other artists.
Hersch has collaborated with an astonishing rage of instrumentalists and vocalists throughout worlds of jazz (Joe Henderson, Charlie Haden, Art Farmer, Stan Getz, and Bill Frisell); classical (Renée Fleming, Dawn Upshaw, Christopher O’Riley); and Broadway (Audra McDonald).
Long admired for his sympathetic work with singers, Hersch has joined with such notable jazz vocalists as Nancy King, Norma Winstone, and Kurt Elling. He has received commissions from The Gilmore Keyboard Festival, the Doris Duke Foundation, The Miller Theatre at Columbia University, The Gramercy Trio, and The Brooklyn Youth Chorus. A disc of his through-composed works, Fred Hersch: Concert Music 2001-2006, has been released by Naxos Records; these works are published by the prestigious firm Edition Peters.
A passionate spokesman and fund-raiser for AIDS services and education agencies since 1993,. Hersch has produced and performed on four benefit recordings and in numerous concerts for charities including Classical Action: Performing Arts Against AIDS and Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS that have raised over $250,000 to date. He has also been the keynote speaker and performer at international medical conferences in the U.S. and Europe.
concert hotline: 413.597.3146