– Jason Moran
David Hajdu's recent New York Times Magazine profile of pianist Fred Hersch is an odd amalgam of hyperbolic praise (above), made-up trends ("A new movement in jazz has surfaced over the past few years—a wave of highly expressive music more concerned with emotion than with craft or virtuosity"), and out-of-the-blue pot-shots ("Fred's ego is enormous.") That said, there's a pretty moving story here about a really excellent musician making a name for himself, facing death, and returning triumphantly to the scene.
I've been a fan of Hersch's music for a long time—a duo gig he did several years ago with Joe Lovano at the Jazz Standard was one of the more magical shows I've been to—and I've heard first-hand stories of his kindness—he recorded a tape of solo piano for a close friend of my mother's while she was awaiting a bone-marrow transplant (they had mutual friends but had never met). I just wish Hajdu didn't feel the need to dress Hersch's journey with the trappings of story: the exaggeration of Hersch's musical importance, the thinly backed-up claims of his arrogant "artistic temperament", and the pop-psychoanalytical discussion of how Hersch's sexuality relates to his lyricism.