Personnel: Fred Hersch (piano); Toots Thielemans (harmonica); Gary Burton (vibraphone); Michael Formanek, Marc Johnson (bass); Jeff Hirshfield (drums).
Recorded at The Studio, New York, New York on August 16 & 17, 1990. Includes liner notes by Bret Primack.
Initially released in Japan in 1990, Evanessence didn't come out in the U.S. until the Philadelphia-based Evidence Music reissued it in 1998. This excellent CD finds Hersch (who evolved into one of the finest acoustic pianists of the 1990s) paying tribute to the person he has been compared to more than anyone: Bill Evans. To be sure, Evans has had a major impact on Hersch's crystalline, elegant pianism. But Hersch (whose other main influences include Ahmad Jamal and Keith Jarrett) is far from a slavish imitator of Evans, and the fact that he's very much his own person comes through on both Evans' compositions (including "Turn Out the Stars," "We Will Meet Again" and "Remembering the Rain") and sensitive interpretations of "Alice in Wonderland" and "You Must Believe in Spring." Though Hersch's admiration for Evans (especially his 1970s work) is hard to miss, he comes across as someone who's adamant about being himself. The pianist's thoughtful accompaniment includes Toots Thielemans on harmonica, Gary Burton on vibes, Michael Formanek or Marc Johnson on bass and Jeff Hirshfield on drums. Highly recommended. ~ Alex Henderson