Just another week in New York City
Take this week. Last night, I went to see the Fred Hersch trio at Small’s, the convivial and, yes, quite small, jazz club in the West Village. Hersch, one of the most lyrical pianists around, was deathly ill for much of last year, and he still looks a bit tired, but he sounded strong: fresh, inventive, and buoyant, whether playing a knotty blues like Jaki Byard’s “Mrs. Parker of K.C. (Bird’s Mother)" or one of his own stirring ballads, like “Gravity’s Pull.”
For the rest of this week, through Sunday, the Village Vanguard features Brad Mehldau and his riveting trio, which always broods and swings and covers Radiohead and the Beatles as fluently as Kern and Gershwin, and with astonishing originality. At Birdland, there’s David Murray, the tenor-sax titan who mixes Sonny Rollins’ chops for high-fly improv with Ben Webster’s romantic tone, spiced with a dash of Albert Ayler frenzy. When Murray lived here, he could be seen every week; since moving to Paris, each appearance is an Event. At the Blue Note, James Carter, Murray’s heir in many ways, is fronting John Medeski (of Medeski, Martin & Wood) on keyboards, Christian McBride on bass, and Joey Baron on drums; they’re recording a live album. And at the Jazz Standard, there’s Branford Marsalis, whose saxophone sojourns have grown more intense over time.
New York City is a non-stop jazz festival.