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Songs Without Words Box set

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Audio CD, Box set, March 20, 2001
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$109.99 $28.84

Editorial Reviews

For the past two decades pianist Fred Hersch has created something all jazz musicians strive for: his own unique style. That style is on display on this three-CD collection that primarily features Hersch's sterling solo pianisms. The first disc contains Hersch's "Songs Without Words," a six-suite work that highlights Hersch's articulate touch and evokes French impressionism, the Argentinean tango, and the jazz waltz. His earliest compositions follow the suite, such as the lullaby-like "Child's Song" and the heartbreaking melody of "Sarabande." The second disc is Hersch's tribute to several jazz composers from Duke Ellington to Dizzy Gillespie. On "Work" by Thelonious Monk, Hersch pulls Monk's tricky rhythms into his bluesy lyrical labyrinth, and his quintet's treatment of Wayne Shorter's mysterious "Fall" recalls the moody tones of the mid-'60s Miles Davis group. The last disc salutes the American songwriter Cole Porter. On tunes such as "Get Out of Town," "All of You," the zesty drum-and-piano duet "Let's Do It," and the trio take of "Easy to Love," Hersch displays unlimited imagination, technical brilliance, and a firm grasp of the past. --Eugene Holley Jr.

Listen to Samples and Buy MP3s

Songs from this album are available to purchase as MP3s. Click on "Buy MP3" or view the MP3 Album.

Disc 1:

Song Title Time Price
listen  1. Volume One: Fred's Songs / Song without Words #1: Aria 6:58$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  2. Volume One: Fred's Songs / Song without Words #2: Ballad 5:54$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  3. Volume One: Fred's Songs / Song without Words #3: Tango 5:36$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  4. Volume One: Fred's Songs / Song without Words #4: Duet 5:52$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  5. Volume One: Fred's Songs / Song without Words #5: The Moon's Lullaby 6:38$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  6. Volume One: Fred's Songs / Song without Words #6: Waltz 3:12$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  7. Volume One: Fred's Songs / Child's Song10:11Album Only
listen  8. Volume One: Fred's Songs / Up in the Air 5:47$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  9. Volume One: Fred's Songs / Heartsong 5:35$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen10. Volume One: Fred's Songs / Sarabande 6:33$0.99  Buy MP3 

Disc 2:

Song Title Time Price
listen  1. Volume Two: Jazz Tunes / Work 5:16$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  2. Volume Two: Jazz Tunes / Caravan 6:54$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  3. Volume Two: Jazz Tunes / The Wind 7:12$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  4. Volume Two: Jazz Tunes / Con Alma 5:13$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  5. Volume Two: Jazz Tunes / Fall 6:28$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  6. Volume Two: Jazz Tunes / Winter Sweet 5:18$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  7. Volume Two: Jazz Tunes / Whisper Not 6:44$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  8. Volume Two: Jazz Tunes / Miyako 7:46$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  9. Volume Two: Jazz Tunes / Duke Ellington's Sound of Love / Jump Monk 5:56$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen10. Volume Two: Jazz Tunes / Mood Indigo 5:53$0.99  Buy MP3 

Disc 3:

Song Title Time Price
listen  1. Volume Three: Cole Porter / Get Out of Town 5:28$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  2. Volume Three: Cole Porter / So in Love 7:49$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  3. Volume Three: Cole Porter / From this Moment on 6:07$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  4. Volume Three: Cole Porter / Don't Fence Me in 5:08$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  5. Volume Three: Cole Porter / Everytime We Say Goodbye 5:59$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  6. Volume Three: Cole Porter / All of You 5:49$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  7. Volume Three: Cole Porter / Easy to Love 5:16$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  8. Volume Three: Cole Porter / I Concentrate on You 7:31$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen  9. Volume Three: Cole Porter / You're the Top 6:43$0.99  Buy MP3 
listen10. Volume Three: Cole Porter / Let's Do It 2:53$0.99  Buy MP3 

Product Details

  • Audio CD (March 20, 2001)
  • Number of Discs: 3
  • Format: Box set
  • Note on Boxed Sets: During shipping, discs in boxed sets occasionally become dislodged without damage. Please examine and play these discs. If you are not completely satisfied, we'll refund or replace your purchase.
  • Label: Nonesuch
  • ASIN: B000059QTS
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #335,081 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Amazon's Fred Hersch Store


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Pianist and composer Fred Hersch has been called a "one of the small handful of brilliant musicians of his generation" by Downbeat and has earned a place among the foremost jazz artists in the world today. From the late 70's onward as a sideman to jazz legends including Joe Henderson, Art Farmer and Stan Getz, he has solidified a reputation as a versatile master of jazz piano, as ... Read more in Amazon's Fred Hersch Store

Visit Amazon's Fred Hersch Store
for 44 albums, 6 photos, and 1 full streaming song.

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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See all 11 customer reviews
Probably the best I've ever made.
If Mr. Fred Hersch ever reads this, I have a pray for him: please, play and record every music you know!
This is a superb collection of diverse songs by diverse composers.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 36 people found the following review helpful By svf on March 21, 2001
Format: Audio CD
The latest release from pianist Fred Hersch is a sprawling boxed set of 3 CDs loosely united by the concept of "songs without words". While this might be perceived as overly bold, excessive, or self-indulgent, instead Hersch's ambitious project is a shining artistic success and one of the finest jazz releases of the year to date.
The first disc, "Songs Without Words," consists entirely of Hersch's original compositions, the second, "Jazz Tunes," is a collection of songs by Monk, Mingus, Shorter, Ellington and others, and the third CD, "Music of Cole Porter," is, well, a selection of Cole Porter songs. While most performances are solo piano, Fred is joined by other players (including Ralph Alessi on trumpet and flugelhorn and Rich Perry on tenor sax) for some duet, trio, and quintet arrangements.
I was fortunate enough to see a live solo performance by Mr. Hersch just a few days ago where he played some selections from this release before an amazingly small audience of 50 or so people. (Being at Shank Hall in Milwaukee, he commented what an honor it was to share the stage with the famed Stonehenge model from "Spinal Tap.") Needless to say, these CDs capture the wonderful essence of this concert and more. This is the kind of set you really treasure, knowing it will provide endless hours of listening and discovery. Those who enjoyed his "Live at Jordan Hall" release will surely love this collection which has a similar relaxed and intimate recital-like atmosphere. The disc of originals is probably the most interesting and unexpected treat here... "Songs without Words" is a 6-part suite of pieces combining abstraction and lyricism in various short character forms.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 25, 2001
Format: Audio CD
With these discs, Fred has really won the right to call himself the best solo jazz pianist alive. The colors and textures which he achieves on these recordings are so varied and magical, ranging from his trademark monk meets scriabin counterpoint to the washy french impressionism to some sort of spirit of earl hines stride playing. the readings of the jazz tunes are all thoughtful, as are those of the cole porter tunes. fred's own songs without words are beautiful, particularly the aria and ballad which offer really nice harmonies. if you haven't heard fred's solo playing, and consider keith jarrett's to be the mecca of the medium, you're in for a treat.
just a little note regarding the previous review: he writes that it may bring to mind the pianism of brad mehldau: brad was a student of fred's, and so i think it only fair to say that brad's playing brings to mind FRED's pianism.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By ROGER L. FOREMAN on October 18, 2001
Format: Audio CD
The previous reviews are right on target. This is a superb collection of diverse songs by diverse composers. Hersch shows his composing chops on the first disc with a gorgeous array of songs. He has played other people's songs so well for so long that it's only fair to let him play a few of his own. The standards on the second disc are by a pretty impressive lineup: Monk, Ellington, Gillespie, Shorter, Wheeler, Mingus, among others. Did he leave anyone out? Great original takes on these otherwise "standard" melodies. The third disc, Cole Porter tunes, calls to mind his Rogers and Hammerstein or Billy Strayhorn tribute discs, both equally great! Hersch has a way of putting his own stamp on songs and melodies that we should already be familiar with.
Bottom line: I love Fred Hersch's playing. He has a beautifully melodic and lyrical approach to playing these songs, whether they are his own or the compositions of others. Other jazz pianist may have more flash, but few, if any, have more substance.
p.s. Unlike a couple of reviewers down, I'd still give the edge to Keith Jarret . . . but not by much. . . !
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By p dizzle on September 10, 2001
Format: Audio CD
fred hersch is a stylist, pure and simple. the three discs herein show us the complex nature of mr. hersch's approach to jazz piano, at times exploring classical forms, at times a bill evans introspection, and at times a monkish swing. the first disc tackles a classical song cycle exploring six different styles of song. mr. hersch seems to have fun with each song, exploring and pulling the form in a way that is intellectual, but at the same time free and easy. this disc closes with some revisiting to songs recorded earlier in his career, each thoughtfully reminiscent, but also fresh--like a good conversation with an old friend. disc 2 is a mix of standards and originals in straight ahead jazz forms. again, the solo piano work is amazing. here mr. hersch takes a decidedly bill evans turn exploring the song within the song. he pulls the listener inward, but in a completely fascinating way leaving you wondering just where he is headed. highlights here are "caravan", "whisper not", and "mood indigo." the final disc brings the two approaches together as mr. hersch explores the cole porter songbook. jazz has built up a repertoire over the last half century, and cole porter sits in the middle of it. mr. hersch, then, takes a classical turn at the collection, recreating the original form and feel of each song, but simultaneously swings and improvises on the themes presented. it is simply masterful. occasionally, mr. hersch is accompanied by one or two players, but overall this is a solo collection. the only beef, if you could complain about having too much of a good thing, is the size of the collection. it's... worth the price. enjoy!
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