Mar 27 2018
I haven’t always made the best decisions. One path chosen sometimes becomes the wrong path chosen. And since there’s really no going back, I simply have to keep deviating course ’til I get to where I’m on a path that closely mirrors the one I should have been on all along. Sometimes I don’t realize I’ve been taking the wrong path all along until much much much later than would’ve been helpful. For instance, I was recently made aware that the best choices in life would have led me to be in California for the 2016 Healdsburg Jazz Festival.
There is evil in this world. Each of us know this is true. But rarely does it make its malicious intentions so plainly obvious as it does on this recording from Anat Cohen and Fred Hersch. These sadists… the former on clarinet, the latter on piano… want to inflict some hurt on us for not choosing to hear their live performance at the Raven Performing Arts Theater that evening in June.
Look, you and I both know that seeing the show live will always eclipse the experience of hearing it on a recorded medium. That’s just the way it is. Steve Moon and Mark Wilder do an outstanding job of bringing this lovely music into our homes, but there’s no amount of recording or studio talent that will compare to being there in person the night the show went down. I know it, you know it, and Cohen & Hersch know we know it. And they use that knowledge against us. Why else would they taunt us with this exquisite recording?
What were you doing on the night of June 11th, 2016? Not in Healdsburg, California? Well, that was a big mistake, and both Cohen and Hersch want to drive that point home. Don’t live anywhere nearby? Well, maybe you should have made different decisions when you were younger… chose a different college, applied for jobs in California, entered into a different romantic relationship, taken a different road trip, followed a different path… because the alternative might have led you to Healdsburg that night. You have no one to blame but yourself, and Cohen and Hersch want to be sure that point is made clear. They have made it clear to me. Big time.
“Child’s Song” is the tranquility of those Sunday mornings when sunlight floods the room and the world seems to have settled into a consensual peace. “The Purple Piece” is the majesty of two hawks soaring overhead, close enough to see the flutter of their wings, far enough to appreciate how they shrug off the effects of gravity. And the playful trades of melody on “Lee’s Dream” mimic the joy of butterflies dancing on the surface of a breeze carrying along the distant sound of children playing. That’s the sense of things, at least. Too bad you weren’t there to witness it in its totality.
Every now and then, between songs, the recording picks up the enthusiastic applause of the audience that was blessed to be in attendance that night. They’re just twisting the knife. I hate them all.
So, if you want to experience undiluted pain and regret and angst and depression, you should buy this album. And if you want to experience joy and beauty and delight and amusement and confirmation of the enduring belief that creativity reveals the best humanity has to offer, then you should buy this album. If I hear from either Cohen or Hersch inre: their preference for the former or latter, I’ll update you immediately. But go buy this album.
Your album personnel: Anat Cohen (clarinet) and Fred Hersch (piano).
Released on Anzic Records.
Listen to more of the album on the label’s Bandcamp page.