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Jazz - Released June 7, 2019 | Palmetto+

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After a brilliant series of trio and solo projects, Fred Hersch has coupled up his piano with a big band; the Cologne-based WDR Big Band, to be precise. His fellow American Vince Mendoza both conducts and arranges all 9 of Hersch’s original compositions, cherry-picked from his vast repertoire. The pieces are impeccably orchestrated by Mendoza, who juggles energy and refinement, eruptions and discretion, and offers up a colour palette with a thousand beautiful shades. Taking the legacies of Duke Ellington and Gil Evans in completely new directions, the real strength of this album lies in its variety. The soloists’ precision is also outstanding: alto saxophonists Johan Hörlén and Karolina Strassmayer, tenor saxophonist Paul Heller, trumpeters Ruud Breuls and Andy Haderer, trombonists Ludwig Nuss and Andy Hunter and drummer Hans Dekker all embark on meticulous solos. The ocean of music renders Fred Hersch's playing even more weightless than usual, the pianist being accustomed to space and silence. He is never swamped by the big band, instead injecting energy and enthusiasm into the work. A true wonder. © Marc Zisman/Qobuz