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Straight No Chaser - A Jazz Show

Welcome to Straight No Chaser, the Award-winning Podcast hosted by Jeffrey Siegel

May 4, 2013

Fred Hersch’s weekly residences at New York’s finest jazz clubs provide highlights of any jazz season. The veteran pianist enjoys performing with a wide variety of sidemen and group configurations, from his trio to solo and duo setting. This week (May 7-12), Hersch takes the stage at the Jazz Standard for a series of duo and trio performances with some very special friends, in the annual tradition known as the “Fred Hersch Duo Invitation Series.” What makes these performances particularly enticing is that Hersch has never played with four of the five co-headliners – Donny McCaslin, Greg Osby, Esperanza Spalding and Lionel Loueke. The series opens with clarinetist Anat Cohen, with whom Hersch has a special history.

Hersch previews these shows in Podcast 347, which includes his thoughts on each player and why he enjoys the duo setting. Click here to listen to our conversation, which features musical selections from:

Fred Hersch – “O Grande Amor” from Fred Hersch Plays Jobim. Hersch and Anat Cohen share a great affinity for Brazilian music, and both have recorded the music of Antonio Carlos Jobim. Here’s hoping for a tune like this one on opening night.

Donny McCaslin – Title Track from Casting for Gravity. Fred has always wanted to play with the talented tenor saxophonist Donny McCaslin, and he will get the chance at the Jazz Standard. McCaslin released one of the finest CDs of 2012 with a band of Jason Lindner (electric piano, acoustic piano, synthesizers); Tim Lefebvre (electric bass) and Mark Guiliana (drums).

Esperanza Spalding – “Cuerpo y Alma (Body and Soul)” from Esperanza.  The appearance of this talented bassist/singer – who is “a self-avowed Fred fan” - will make for big crowds at the Jazz Standard for the weekend shows. Here Ms. Spalding shows her stuff on this standard, singing the lyrics in Spanish. Her backing band is Leo Genovese on keyboards;  Jamey Haddad on  percussion; and Otis Brown on drums.

Fred Hersch & Bill Frisell – “Blue Monk” from Songs We Know.  Hersch feels that guitar and piano make for tricky duos, but considers it a challenge worth taking. He has recorded duos sessions like this one with Bill Frisell, and also a CD with Julian Lage to be released later this year. He will spend the last night of the run with Lionel Loueke, which should make for some interesting textures and voicings.

Julian Lage – “Familiar Posture” from Sounding Point. Fred’s next recorded duo partner will be the wunderkind guitar player Lage, who has risen from Gary Burton’s group to stardom in a short stretch of time. Hersch explains Lage’s strengths as a duo player in our conversation, and this solo track backs up his enthusiasm.