For more than 10 years, pianist Fred Hersch has invited a wide range of musicians to join him in duo performances at New York’s Jazz Standard. Last season, Hersch inaugurated the tradition at the Mondavi Center. This year he carries it forward over three nights in collaboration with saxophonist and composer Miguel Zenón.
A select member of jazz’s piano pantheon, Fred Hersch is a pervasively influential creative force who has shaped the music’s course over more than three decades as an improviser, composer, educator, bandleader, collaborator and recording artist. He has been proclaimed “the most arrestingly innovative pianist in jazz over the last decade” by Vanity Fair, “an elegant force of musical invention” by the Los Angeles Times and “a living legend” by The New Yorker.
A 12-time Grammy nominee, Hersch has regularly garnered jazz’s most prestigious awards, including recent distinctions as a 2016 Doris Duke Artist, 2016 and 2018 Jazz Pianist of the Year from the Jazz Journalists Association, and the 2017 Prix Honorem de Jazz from L’Acádemie Charles Cros for the totality of his career.
If good things happen slowly, as the title of Hersch’s 2017 memoir attests, such good fortune has nonetheless accrued to the point where the pianist can enjoy the accolades and adulation of peers, critics and audiences alike. He has long set the standard for expressive interpretation and inventive creativity in a stunning variety of settings, whether through his exquisite solo performances, as the leader of one of jazz’s era-defining trios, or in eloquent dialogue with his deeply attuned duo partners.
Guggenheim and MacArthur Fellow Miguel Zenón represents a select group of musicians who have masterfully balanced and blended the often-contradictory poles of innovation and tradition. Widely considered as one of the most groundbreaking and influential saxophonists of his generation, he has also developed a unique voice as a composer and as a conceptualist, concentrating his efforts on perfecting a fine mix between Latin American Folkloric Music and Jazz. Born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Zenón has built a distinguished career as a leader, releasing 12 albums under his own name.