Hersch's comeback full of contemplation and dry humour
Fred Hersch Alone at the Vanguard (Palmetto Records)
This is the pianist's second album since recovering from an illness that left him helpless for a year. Recorded at the Village Vanguard in New York, it finds him back on form.
Most of the time the mood is contemplative, enhanced by subtle use of light and shade. Four tracks are his own compositions: Down Home with its churchy chords, the flowing Echoes, Lee's Dream (dedicated to Lee Konitz) and Pastorale (for Robert Shumann). In the Wee Small Hours is intensely expressive. The chirpy Doce de Coco is followed by a spare treatment of Memories of You. Thelonious Monk's Work is full of Monkian harmonies and dry humour. In a leisurely version of Sonny Rollins's Doxy, the tune only emerges toward the end.
Ian Shaw The Abbey Road Sessions (Splash Point Records)
The versatile Ian Shaw could be a full-time blues singer, as he shows in Since I Fell For You and Today I Sing The Blues. But he's equally at home with poignant ballads like I Get Along Without You Very Well, the bouncy Stuck in the Middle With You and Joni Mitchell's tongue-in-cheek Be Cool. The band, which includes "our own" Phil Ware, provides discreet accompaniment and tasty solos.
Phil McDermott (guitar), returns from Norway to his native Dublin to play with the Phil Ware Trio in JJ Smyth's tomorrow. A relaxed and lyrical guitarist, he will fit in well.