The masterful musicianship of the young pianist and composer Fred Hersch has earned increasing critical praise in the last few years: The New Yorker has called him "...a poet of a pianist" and Downbeat has cited him as "...one of the small handful of brilliant musicians of his generation." This Cincinnati native, who has made his home in New York City since 1977, has emerged with a reputation for both impressive technical facility and imagination and has performed extensively with many of the world's most renowned jazz artists: saxaphonists Joe Henderson, Stan Getz, James Moody and Jane Ira Bloom, flugelhornist Art Farmer, bassist Charlie Haden, clarinetist Eddie Daniels, and harmonica virtuoso Jean "Toots" Thielemans.
Fred's current projects and recordings are bringing to the public varied aspects of his versatile musical personality. His newest release, Forward Motion (Chesky), features his compositions and The Fred Hersch Group, a quintet with a front line of saxophone and 'cello. Other notable releases are The French Collection (Angel/EMI), featuring Hersch's arrangements of pieces by Ravel, Debussy, Faure, Poulenc and Satie, Short Stories (Atlantic), an album of duets with vocalist Janis Siegel of The Manhattan Transfer (a 1989 Grammy nominee), and the new Evanessence: A Tribute to Bill Evans (Jazz City) with guest artists Toots Thielemans and Gary Burton. He has released four trio albums, Heartsongs (1990) and Sarabande (1987), both on Sunnyside, E.T.C. on Red Records, and Horizons an Concord Jazz. In demand as a sideman, he has appeared on over 50 recordings; over 25 of his compositions have been recorded by noted jazz musicians and chamber music groups. He has also produced and arranged many projects including Eddie Daniels' To Bird With Love (a 1987 Grammy nominee on GRP) and the series Colors of Jazz for Sony Masterworks.
Hersch's stylistic diversity and inventive playing is reflected by his wide range of performing experience. He has been heard as a soloist with The Long Island Philharmonic, The Middletown Symphony, and The Concordia Chamber Orchestra; he has also performed at major international jazz festivals. He has appeared on the "Today" show, on VH-1's "New Visions" and as a featured artist on numerous radio broadcasts, including Marian McPartland's "Piano Jazz" and "American Jazz Radio Festival" on National Public Radio. As a recipient of a generous grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, Hersch made his New York concert debut in October 1989 at Town Hall performing a Mozart piano concerto and original compositions and arrangements with the Concordia Chamber Orchestra and his trio; the concert was broadcast coast-to-coast by NPR.
Hersch graduated with honors from The New England Conservatory in 1977 and was a member of its Jazz Studies Faculty from 1980 to 1986; he is currently on the faculty of The New School in New York City.