By Matt Micucci
The New England Conservatory presents a solo recital by acclaimed jazz pianist and composer Fred Hersch. The concert will be taking place at NEC’s Jordan Hall, 290 Huntington Avenue, Boston at 7pm on Thursday Oct 29.
There are a number of reasons that make this a special concert. One of them is to celebrate the pianist’s birthday – he turned 60 on Oct 21. This is just one in an array of Hersch’s 60th birthday events this fall, as he recently performed at both the Newport and the Chicago Jazz Festivals, and his new work Rooms of Light: The Life of Photographs (A Song Cycle) commissioned by Peak Performances at Montclair State University has its world premiere October 15-18. His birthday celebration continues with trio performances at the Village Vanguard from Oct 20-25.
On top of this, the promotes the release of his latest recording, Fred Hersch: Solo, which has already earned the eight time Grammy Award nominee great acclaim.
His return to the New England Conseratory also marks the 40th anniversary of Hersch’s arrival at the NEC as a student. It was here that he first started attracting attention from the press in college recitals, and on graduation became a jazz instructor at the college, and has been at its Jazz Studies faculty since 1980.
Downbeat has described Hersch as “one of the small handful of musicians of his generation”. He has won praise from fellow pianists, who have quoted him as a direct influence. His contemporary Jason Moran said “Fred at the piano is like LeBron James on the basketball court. He is perfection.”
The Fred Hersch performance is one of over 100 free concerts and woprkshops open to the public presented by NEC’s Jazz and Contemporary Improvisation departments for the 2015-2016 season. Other highlights include a Gnther Schuller Memorial Concert, birthday concerts for Anthony Coleman, 60, and Ran Blake 80, as well as workshops and master classes by top musicians such as Ken Schaphorsty, Dominique Eade and Bob Nieske.
NEC’s Jazz Studies Department was the first fully accredited jazz studies program at a music conservatory. Now in its 45th year, the program has spawned numerous Grammy winning composers and performers.