Fred Hersch, Drew Gress, Paul Motian
I’ve dropped my jaw enough times in this space about Motian’s magicianship. Many drummers accent the beat by playing around it, but Motian—who’s nearly 79 and more agile than ever—stretches and squeezes time a half-dozen ways in every 8-bar phrase, always startling but never out of place, like nobody since Tony Williams.
Gress, a regular in Hersch’s early bands who hangs more in avant-garde circles now, hovered close to the songs’ lines, but he flitted from one line to another—melodic, harmonic, or a cruising bass walk—with inventive ease and a nice, fat tone.
But it was Hersch who raised eyebrows and sparked delight, infusing whatever he played—standards, blues, bossas, original compositions, or Monk tunes—with a wizard’s imagination and a lyrical intensity.
The trio plays through Sunday. If you can’t make it, pick up his latest solo CD, Fred Hersch Plays Jobim (on the Sunnyside label), in which he covers the Brazilian classics with dynamic subtlety, great verve, romantic flourish, and not a trace of sentimentalism.