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Fred Hersch

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Biography of Fred Hersch

Four in Perspective Album notes

Every once in a great while the right musicians and the right energy come together in front of an attentive audience while a tape recorder is running. The CD you now hold is - for me - one of those times. It documents the first concert of "4 in Perspective", a group assembled for a special evening at St. Barnabas Church for Oxford Contemporary Music.

"I have had the great pleasure of playing with Kenny Wheeler over the years in other contexts, though never often enough; and I have always had profound admiration for Norma Winstone as a vocalist and lyricist. But from the beginning of our only rehearsal, when Paul Clarvis walked in with his distinctive percussion setup and impish good humour, the feeling between the four of us was nothing short of fantastic.

Five hours later, I felt so good about what was happening that I asked Paul if he knew someone who would be available to record the concert at short notice; Andrew Hallifax generously agreed to document the evening. I am so pleased he did. This type of open-armed collaboration between musicians of different generations and experiences is the sort of serendipitous musical encounter that keeps all of us going as improvising artists.

The music speaks for itself, though I would like to give a bit of background about one of my pieces "Out Someplace (Blues for Matthew Shepard)". It is an arrangement of one movement of a dance score that I composed for the Bill T. Jones/ Arnie Zane Dance Company in 1999. The eight movements of the score loosely illustrate different meanings of the phrase "out someplace"; social, geographic, gay identity, zaniness, etc. But around the time that Bill and I were conceptualizing this piece in the Spring of 1998, a young gay man named Matthew Shepard was lured from a bar in Laramie, Wyoming, by two men who brutally beat him and tied him to a fence on the prairie where he was left to die in the freezing cold. When the body was discovered the next day, the only way that the police knew initially that it was a human being was that they could see the pink of his cheeks where his tears had exposed the skin. This somewhat programmatic piece was my musical reaction to the tragedy of this innocent victim of incomprehensible hate being left alone and "out someplace" - a place where, in a kinder world, no one would ever be".

Fred Hersch

"Here is a recording of a concert that we have felt compelled to bring out on Village Life. As a member of the audience that night, I experienced that special sense of community that truly great musicians can create. The opening of "Out Someplace", bringing the freezing cold into the room, the incredible space, and tragic build-up and collapse was met with a collective sense of awe that no-one could break with applause. It was the longest silence. With Norma’s warm and unique tone, purity of pitch, and seamless lyrics; the concentrated essence of Kenny highlighting and shading the music; Paul’s gravitas and emotional response to each shifting moment; and the sheer brilliance, variety and sensitivity of Fred’s piano playing, I felt priveliged to hear these four incredibly seasoned and wide-ranging performers finding out what each other was made of. Then the humour of the encore, where all four musicians let go of the intensity of the concert, brought us all back to our senses with such wonderful warm relaxation and laughter. I hope you all enjoy the depths, heights and variety of the music on this album. Sincere thanks to Fred, Kenny, Norma and Paul for their music. Also to Andrew Hallifax, Jim Potter, David Bass and Jane Ward. Special thanks from all of us to Olwen Richards for her unflagging energy and support". Sonia Slany - Village Life.

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