ONE LP@DOCUMENTING JAZZ_2020: Fred Hersch: Musician

{quote}Well, I had a short list of four - five actually, five.One is 'Glenn Gould Plays Bach' and you can see from the rather beat up condition of it. It was a gift to me when it new and I can look at the year, but I was probably not more than six or seven years old when I received that - and it's probably scratched to shit. But it really awakened my love of counterpoint and moving voices - and just Glenn Gould's sense of rhythm is so astonishing and you can't say that about certain classical pianists, they don't really. There's just a joy in his playing.And then Miles Davis 'Friday Night at The Blackhawk. When I listened to that record - that's when I decided I wanted to become a jazz pianist. I loved the fact that it was live, the way Wynton accompanies Miles is incredible - the sense of swing, the fact that it's a live album and wasn't edited in the studio - you really hear the whole performance. I love that it was Miles's debut with this band it's the first time they'd ever done a gig and he had the balls to record it and put it out. You know - that's the kind of person he was.Other album? Sonny Rollins Trio - 'Live at The Village Vanguard' with Elvin Jones and Wilbur Ware which I think is kind of the definition of what modern jazz is, and I've listened to that - I think there's two volumes, I've listened to them I don't know how many times - I tell every student I have 'You have to listen to these - this is what jazz improvisation is.'Joni Mitchell's 'Blue' album. You know, that in a weird way led me toward jazz trying to figure out what the chords she was playing were because they weren't major, they weren't really minor. To a high school ear they were very mysterious. Just the way she tells stories and I've set a lot of text and she's kind of my guru for how to take a complicated text and make it understandable - set text.  The other album was 'Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus' which is, to me, - I've sort of talked about it as kind of like Duke Ellington on acid. It's kind of a mid sized ensemble and the way Mingus and Dannie Richmond play together is kind of miraculous, and Jaki Byard is on it and I eventually studied with Jaki Byard.  So these were the five.I will probably pick ‘Glenn Gould plays Bach’ in the end.  You know Bach is the composer that everybody loves - first of all.- you can’t not love Bach. There’s not only the most sublime craftsmanship but, as they say, he wrote for the glory of God. Nobody commissioned him to write these piano pieces he just did this because this is what he did. And he had twenty two children and he wrote with a quill and ink and no copying machines and no music notation software - and candles ... and he created all this universe.I think probably a distinctive feature of my jazz playing is its contrapuntal nature and it was really launched by not only listening to these albums, this three disc set I think, but by playing those pieces and understanding how three independent voices can be a whole universe.  The other reason that musicians love Bach is there are no dynamic markings, there are no tempo markings, very rarely there is a slur or an articulation marking but pretty much you have to do it all yourself and there’s no one correct way to do it.  When you’re playing Bach you decide how you’re going to articulate the theme if it’s a fugue. Nobody can tell you that’s right or wrong, and as long as you make a case for it - that this is the way you hear it and you’ve really thought about it and you can execute and sell your performance. It’s like there’s no perfect Hamlet or there’s no perfect version of 'Autumn Leaves'. There are many possible versions, it’s just - they’re templates for whoever inhabits them and I think Bach’s music is universal in that way. It’s the music that I always come back to. So I think that’s what I’m gonna pick.{quote}Fred Hesrch: At home, New York City, 3rd October 2018Glenn Gould Plays Bach: The Six Partitas, The Two and Three Part InventionsFred Hersch
Fred Hersch: Musician, Glenn Gould: Plays Bach - The Six Partitias

 

"Well, I had a short list of four - five actually, five. 

One is 'Glenn Gould Plays Bach' and you can see from the rather beat up condition of it. It was a gift to me when it new and I can look at the year, but I was probably not more than six or seven years old when I received that - and it's probably scratched to shit. But it really awakened my love of counterpoint and moving voices - and just Glenn Gould's sense of rhythm is so astonishing and you can't say that about certain classical pianists, they don't really. There's just a joy in his playing. 

And then Miles Davis 'Friday Night at The Blackhawk. When I listened to that record - that's when I decided I wanted to become a jazz pianist. I loved the fact that it was live, the way Wynton accompanies Miles is incredible - the sense of swing, the fact that it's a live album and wasn't edited in the studio - you really hear the whole performance. I love that it was Miles's debut with this band it's the first time they'd ever done a gig and he had the balls to record it and put it out. You know - that's the kind of person he was. 

Other album? Sonny Rollins Trio - 'Live at The Village Vanguard' with Elvin Jones and Wilbur Ware which I think is kind of the definition of what modern jazz is, and I've listened to that - I think there's two volumes, I've listened to them I don't know how many times - I tell every student I have 'You have to listen to these - this is what jazz improvisation is.' 

Joni Mitchell's 'Blue' album. You know, that in a weird way led me toward jazz trying to figure out what the chords she was playing were because they weren't major, they weren't really minor. To a high school ear they were very mysterious. Just the way she tells stories and I've set a lot of text and she's kind of my guru for how to take a complicated text and make it understandable - set text.  

The other album was 'Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus' which is, to me, - I've sort of talked about it as kind of like Duke Ellington on acid. It's kind of a mid sized ensemble and the way Mingus and Dannie Richmond play together is kind of miraculous, and Jaki Byard is on it and I eventually studied with Jaki Byard. So these were the five. 

I will probably pick ‘Glenn Gould plays Bach’ in the end.  

You know Bach is the composer that everybody loves - first of all.- you can’t not love Bach. There’s not only the most sublime craftsmanship but, as they say, he wrote for the glory of God. Nobody commissioned him to write these piano pieces he just did this because this is what he did. And he had twenty two children and he wrote with a quill and ink and no copying machines and no music notation software - and candles ... and he created all this universe. 

I think probably a distinctive feature of my jazz playing is its contrapuntal nature and it was really launched by not only listening to these albums, this three disc set I think, but by playing those pieces and understanding how three independent voices can be a whole universe.  

The other reason that musicians love Bach is there are no dynamic markings, there are no tempo markings, very rarely there is a slur or an articulation marking but pretty much you have to do it all yourself and there’s no one correct way to do it. When you’re playing Bach you decide how you’re going to articulate the theme if it’s a fugue. Nobody can tell you that’s right or wrong, and as long as you make a case for it - that this is the way you hear it and you’ve really thought about it and you can execute and sell your performance.  

It’s like there’s no perfect Hamlet or there’s no perfect version of 'Autumn Leaves'. There are many possible versions, it’s just - they’re templates for whoever inhabits them and I think Bach’s music is universal in that way. It’s the music that I always come back to. So I think that’s what I’m gonna pick." 

Fred Hesrch: At home, New York City, 3rd October 2018 

Glenn Gould Plays Bach: The Six Partitas, The Two and Three Part Inventions 

Fred Hersch