When it comes to word association, jazz and freedom are a natural fit. And yet, when it comes to jazz and matters of gender and sexual orientation, jazz has been anything but progressive. For women, their role seemed to be limited to standing before a microphone singing or sitting on a piano bench playing. That image, fortunately, has, if not perfectly, changed in more recent times. Gender matters, you might say, have moved in many ways from the back burner to the front burner of concerns.
Sexual orientation, however, has still lagged behind. You might say, progress here has come in the form of being on no burner to be on the back burner. Pianist Fred Hersch was among the earliest players to come out as gay as he also emerged as a truly great musician who has faced critical medical conditions, including a two -month, medically induced coma in 2008 (see his 2017 book Good Things Happen Slowly).
But, when Hersch and his fellow trio members (bassist John Hebert and drummer Eric – son of saxophonist Charles – McPherson) take the stage at Dazzle on Tuesday and Wednesday. This is his long time trio that walked away with top spot as the best group in the music in the 2019 DownBeat “Critics Poll.” Additionally, Hersch has pulled in 15 Grammy Award nominations, including one for best composition on this year’s Grammys (broadcast on January 26 on CBS).
Hersch’s current CD on Palmetto is Live in Europe. But, if you don’t want to travel that far, the pianist and his trio will be on stage at Dazzle on Tuesday and Wednesday at 7 p.m. In recent years, Hersch has been ranking high on the list of pianists in the DownBeat “Critics Poll.” In the 2019 poll, he captured the second spot, running only behind Kenny Barron. Having the opportunity to hear this nimble trio in a club environment is a very special, sweet treat in a building that used to turn out sweets every day.
While there’s a big musical bang to end our week, there’s also a pretty big bang to kick it off on Thursday when guitarist Peter Bernstein, Hammond B-3 man Larry Goldings and drummer Bill Stewart bring their organ trio to Dazzle at 6:30 and 9 p.m. This band, with a lot of justification has been referred to as the organ trio of our times. Bernstein, born in New York, has worked with folk such as Lou Donaldson, Eric Anderson, Jimmy Cobb and his own band, among others. Drummer Stewart is out of Iowa and has worked folks such as Pat Metheny, Michael Brecker, Joe Lovano, Maceo Parker and host of others, while Goldings adds a Boston accent to the mix that blends jazz artists with James Taylor.
In addition to the visit by these big musical guns, there are lots of addition sounds from area-based players such as guitarist Dave Devine’s tribute to the Wild West through the film music of Ennio Morricone. Devive does his “T”he Good, the Bad and the Devine” at Dazzle at 6 and 9 on Saturday and at 5 p.m on Sunday. And there is also sounds from Nocturne, La Cour and Caffe Sole in Boulder.
Jazz Notes 1-23-2020