Pianist Fred Hersch
has showed many others how to achieve an emotionally authentic musical individuality.
Hersch is a well-trained pianist who started composing and improvising as a child. He studied at the New England Conservatory of Music under the great master of jazz piano eclecticism, Jaki Byard, before embarking on a career in jazz in New York. Working as a solo pianist and as an accompanist to Joe Henderson, Art Farmer, Stan Getz, and Lee Konitz, Hersch refined his skills and learned the jazz tradition directly from its greatest stars. At the same time he refined his compositional skills and in the 80s began to lead his own groups and to make recordings, which by now number almost fifty CDs. Many jazz pianists feel most comfortable in trio settings, but Hersch's discography covers a full range from solo recitals, duos, trios, and quintets to larger groups, and his repertoire is constantly shifting from older standards to contemporary works and his own ambitious compositions, including his acclaimed setting of Walt Whitman poems. Noteworthy are his many collaborations with singers, including Johnny Mathis, Janis Siegle, Audra McDonald, and Renee Fleming.