Pianist Fred Hersch has been one of the most highly regarded performers and composers of his generation. He’s lauded not only for his abilities on piano and composition but also for his experiments with interesting sound and group combinations.
The group represented on Hersch’s latest recording, Live At Jazz Standard, has been affectionately named the Pocket Orchestra. The Pocket Orchestra is a unique assembly of piano, vocals, trumpet and percussion. Along with Hersch, the band includes trumpeter Ralph Alessi, Australian vocalist Jo Lawry and the inimitable percussionist Richie Barshay.
The band was an experiment for Hersch with a group minus a bass player and with the vocalist used more as an instrumental foil. Most of the songs were written and arranged by Hersch, except for the group’s takes on Sarabande’s “Invitation To The Dance” and Valentine’s “A Wish” featuring text by Norma Winstone. There are many lovely moments on the record as Hersch proves to be a master of moods and melody. Live At Jazz Standard is a wonderful example of what Hersch and company can bring to live performance.