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Fred Hersch to Commemorate Lockdown Year with Seven Days of Streams on Facebook Live from March 15-21

Frank Hammel • News • March 11, 2021

Fred Hersch photo by Tracey Yarad

Fred Hersch will perform daily from Monday, March 15 through Sunday, March 21 on Facebook Live starting at 1 p.m. EST each day. The seven days of streams will encourage listeners to contribute to a different non-profit each day. The series of livestreams are titled, “The Year That Was.”

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Just over one year ago, in mid-March of 2020, pianist/composer Fred Hersch began posting a “Tune of the Day” at 1 p.m. daily on Facebook Live. After a close friend died of COVID-19 in the first week of lockdown, it was therapeutic for him in dealing with that loss – and he thought he might be able to brighten people’s days. Many thousands of viewers saw the daily streams. After about six weeks, Hersch decided to end the regular streams, just doing them occasionally when the spirit moved him.

That experience prompted his intimate and reflective solo album, Songs From Home, self-recorded in July and released in November 2020 via Palmetto Records. An embrace of nostalgia and warmth, captured in the tranquility of the pianist’s second home in the Pennsylvania woods, the album features a playlist comprised mainly of tunes from the days in the ‘60s and ‘70s before he became aware of jazz: The Beatles, Joni Mitchell, iconic Broadway tunes and a folksong along with some jazz standards and two original pieces. Songs from Home earned acclaim as a “most necessary listen,” (NPR) “a collection of anthems for our era,” (Slate), and “an unpretentious, quietly mirthful album,” (NY Times). “It’s hard not to be awed,” noted DownBeat, while Stereophile called it “masterful, advanced, accessible, modern jazz.” WBGO said simply: “It’s like a hug from Fred…it’s so beautiful.”

Now Hersch returns Monday, March 15 – Sunday, March 21 at 1 p.m. EDT with The Year That Was, seven days of streams on Facebook Live to commemorate this extraordinary year. Each day a new tune will be performed – and each day he will be asking folks who tune in to support a different charity that he has selected for that day. Beneficiary organizations include Feeding America, Jazz Foundation of America, International Rescue Committee, Haitian Alliance for Global Health, the Grammy Foundation’s MusiCares, UNICEF and the ACLU. The repertoire will feature tunes that, to Hersch, have personal resonance with the last twelve months. Composers include The Beatles, Marvin Gaye, Alec Wilder, James Taylor and JS Bach.

A select member of jazz’s piano pantheon, Fred Hersch is an influential creative force who has shaped the music’s course over more than three decades. A fifteen-time Grammy nominee, Hersch has long set the standard for expressive interpretation and inventive creativity. A revered improviser, composer, educator, bandleader, collaborator and recording artist, Hersch 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 L.A. Times, and “a living legend” by The New Yorker. For decades Hersch has been firmly entrenched as one of the most acclaimed and captivating pianists in modern jazz, 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. His brilliant 2017 memoir, Good Things Happen Slowly, was named one of 2017’s Five Best Memoirs by the Washington Post and The New York Times.

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