Fred Hersch Plays Jobim (Sunnyside Records)

Fred Hersch

Released July 28, 2009

Top 10 NPR Music Jazz Critics Poll 2009




Brazil’s affair with jazz delivered both a singular musical style with bossa nova and one of the greatest songwriters of all time, Antonio Carlos Jobim. Jobim’s compositions are among the most well known and most frequently performed in the world. Pianist Fred Hersch has had an affinity for Jobim’s music since being introduced to the well-known guitar renditions by Joao Gilberto. On Fred Hersch Plays Jobim, Hersch (who is quite an influential stylist and composer himself) focuses his attention on these wonderful compositions, performing them on solo piano.
Hersch’s appreciation for Jobim’s unique craftsmanship is obvious as he explores the possibilities presented by the beautiful themes and harmonies wrought into every piece. Fred Hersch Plays Jobim finds a master musician taking on the compositions of a master songwriter and successfully communicating this well known music in a new way.

Track Listing:

1. Por Toda Minha Vida 02:16

2. O Grande Amor 05:55

3. Luiza 05:10

4. Meditaçao 04:41

5. Insensatez 05:32

6. Brigas Nunca Mais 05:46

7. Modinha/Olha Maria 07:37

8. Desafinado 06:14

9. Corcovado 06:59


Fred Hersch: piano

Jamey Haddad: percussion (6)

Recorded Ambient Studio, Stamford, CT

Produced by Fred Hersch

Associate Producer: Arthur Moorhead

Executive Producer: François Zalacain

Recorded and Mastered by A.T. Michael MacDonald

Photography: Matthew Sussman

Graphic Design: Christopher Drukker


Fred Hersch’s gifts are considerable, whether he’s interpreting Monk, Richard Rodgers, Ornette Coleman or, yes, even Fred Hersch. He always finds the challenging and the beautiful in his source material. His latest exploration is all Jobim, and with the exception of one track with percussionist Jamey Haddad, it’s a solo flight of the highest order. He takes to the skies, sometimes in a romantic tradition, but most often in layered, polyrhythmic workouts. Both modus operandi remind us why he’s a piano player’s piano player. Hersch re-harmonizes, syncopates and makes deft choices for his improvs in these Brazilian songs — whether the commensurate Desafinado, Insensatez and Corcovado, or my favorite, “Brigas Nunca Mais.” This record is my top 2009 pick because Hersch reminds me why I started paying attention to him 15 years ago on a collection of Johnny Mandel tunes; his portraiture is not mere recitation, but rather intimate, memorable and masterful works of art adapted from another master’s works of art.

Walter Ray Watson, NPR Senior Producer (npr)