Pianist Fred Hersch’s Memoir, ‘Good Things Happen Slowly,’ Presents an Open Book on the Musician and Man

Fred Hersch. Photo by Steve J. Sherman.

In his memoir, Good Things Happen Slowly: A Life In and Out of Jazz, award-winning pianist and composer Fred Hersch chronicles his ongoing journey of self-discovery both as a musician and a man. In particular, it’s the account of a gay man coming to embrace his sexual identity amid cultural upheaval and the devastation of the AIDS epidemic, and struggling to align his artistry with his self in the testosterone-heavy atmosphere of the New York jazz scene. It’s not always a pretty story—Hersch addresses his shortcomings and weaknesses with the same honesty he applies to his strengths—but it is often fascinating. Continue reading

Jazz Reaches Out: New Releases from Under One Sun and David Lopato

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Jazz is an omnivorous music. It has munched on classical, rock, funk, Cuban, and a host of other musics from around the globe, transforming them and itself in the doing. Two new releases, Gendhing for a Spirit Rising from pianist David Lopato and Under One Sun from the eponymous group founded by saxophonist/composer Billy Drewes and percussionist Jamey Haddad, take different routes to making global connections for jazz. Continue reading

New Releases from Pianists Fred Hersch, Bill Evans, and Vijay Iyer

Two pianists famed for their touch and lyricism, Fred Hersch and the late Bill Evans, have new releases coming. Hersch’s brand-new solo album, Open Book, available September 8, provides a musical complement to his memoir, Good Things Happen Slowly, which will see bookstores on September 12. The tapes of the Bill Evans release, Another Time: The Hilversum Concert, surfaced only last fall. Recorded in the Netherlands on June 22, 1968, and available September 1, the album is only the third known recording of the short-lived and very distinctive trio featuring Eddie Gomez on bass and Jack DeJohnette on drums. Vijay Iyer’s reputation rests on an intellectual rigor married to a passionate and progressive heart, along with serious chops, and his new sextet release, Far from Over (available August 25), manages to be invigorating, complex, and accessible all at once. Continue reading

Swing Local

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The Albuquerque/Santa Fe corridor boasts a vein of musical talent that is out of all proportion to the size of the population. Several of the folks featured in the two reviews below have gigged far and wide, exciting audiences on multiple continents, but what they all have in common is that they live here in northern New Mexico. We get to hear them quite frequently. So today we feature albums from fellow New Mexicans Arlen Asher and the trio Kadish Gagan Bartlit (aka KGB), and all you poor deprived coastal dwellers now have the opportunity to hear them, too. Continue reading

René Marie Gets (Even More) Personal

RenŽé Marie. Photo by John Abbott.

I’ve seen vocalist René Marie naked three times. So have tens of thousands of others—just about anyone, I’d bet, who’s seen her perform in person. No, she doesn’t strip off her clothes. She peels away emotional defenses, social niceties, and the veneer of celebrity to expose and open her heart. Why does she do that? So she can open yours. What’s more, she has three accomplices, collectively known as Experiment in Truth, who are expert at picking the internal locks—John Chin (piano), Elias Bailey (bass), and Quentin Baxter (drums). So be warned: you will be moved if you attend her New Mexico Jazz Festival concert at the African American Performing Arts Center on August 5. Continue reading