Sati, Hersch writes in his liner notes, is a phrase within the Pali language that means “mindfulness” or “awareness.” The pianist’s meditations helped him by means of “this year and a half of global impermanence.” I, for one, stay sadly frightened on the considered impermanence—private, emotional, by way of the human race—however Hersch, a lot to his credit score, planted seeds of serenity for a crop of chic focus, in a collection charted by meditation phases.
He’s joined by bassist Drew Gress, drummer Jochen Rueckert, percussionist Rogerio Boccato on one late lower, and the Crosby Street String Quartet—violinists Joyce Hammann and Laura Seaton, violist Lois Martin, and cellist Jody Redhage Ferber. “Begin Again,” an admonition to stay with the meditation breath, finds the strings dicing evenly throughout Hersch’s ahead movement; distractions, maybe, to be weathered and spurned for return to the breath. The title lower options an exposition from Gress: the easy form of assertion you would possibly discover from a stranger overheard on a telephone, till you synch to the stranger’s knowledge.
Elsewhere, the strings discover themselves suspended in piano amber, strong statements Hersch can contact to deepen at will. They echo themselves, figures rising richer in reiteration. “Monkey Mind,” taking up the “discursive mental chatter” thrown off in deep meditation, options such discursion: pizzicato from the quartet, dry fills from Rueckert, Hersch dropping in notes like a splatter not fairly graduating to storm.
“Rising, Falling” units the bassline to the title motion, the quartet sprouting held-note figures behind each low be aware. Hersch delivers low-key mastery each by means of particular person varieties and his total plan. I want I shared his serenity; he acknowledges how “most things in the world are out of my control,” whilst he tills his personal plot, assured in harvest.
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Before & After With Fred Hersch