Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Music: Fred Hersch Trio

It’s not a festival if you only go once. Earshot Jazz continues, so we ventured out for another show.

Fred Hersch is one of America’s premier jazz pianists. He recently wrapped up what sounds like an extraordinary series of duet concerts with some of my favorites like Brad Mehldau and Ethan Iverson, and his latest album Night and the Music is a gem. He took the stage in Seattle with bassist Ben Street and drummer Nasheet Waits for a set that included some Ornette Coleman, a mini-tribute to Wayne Shorter, and original compositions that aren’t afraid to be lyrical.

Does it sound like I have any idea of what I’m talking about? Because I don’t. Not really. I’m still at the low end of the jazz learning curve, looking forward to making my way up.

In an unusually active month of concert-going, I’ve seen jazz performers ranging in age from late-20s to a still-spry 80. That’s one of the things I love about the form; if you can bring something to the party you’re more than welcome, no matter how young or old you are. It’s a life’s work.

That openness, I’ve realized, is true of other things that interest me. Like crime fiction. And baseball; plenty of the players from my childhood extend their careers in the game as coaches, scouts or managers.

These pursuits also share a healthy respect for the past that never shades over into reverence. ESPN’s TV coverage of the Joe Torre story mentioned Wilbert Robinson as one of the only other people to manage both the Yankees and the Dodgers, even though in Wilbert’s day the Yankees were in Baltimore and the Dodgers in Brooklyn. The cocktail world, one of my other passions, also has that sense of tradition. There’s nothing like a forgotten drink rediscovered by a contemporary bartender.

Chalk it up to premature old man-ism, but I like things where the current practitioners recognize that they are only temporary custodians of their art. Stop worrying about creating something new, and maybe you can create something good.

Miscellaneous: Halloween Links

Tony Kay compares the Rotten Tomatoes scary movie list with his own. At Shoot the Projectionist, results of a month-long horror film survey are in. And Jim Emerson offers a great list of four overlooked scary movies on DVD.

As a bonus, here are two men who went on to far greater things with some Halloween advice. Boo!