Fred Hersch Trio, Sunday Night at the Vanguard (Palmetto)
After all their years together, take it for granted that pianist Hersch, bassist John Hébert and drummer Eric McPherson listen intently to one another and mesh with elegance on every level. However, taking for granted anything about the Hersch trio can only open you up to surprises. Many of the surprises here involve time. There are no Dave Brubeck excursions into 9/8, Charles Ives flings with 15/16, or other unconventional time signatures. Instead, Hersch, Hébert and McPherson flex the time, vary it, sometimes improvise with it as surely as they do with harmonic content, and never lose forward motion. Hersch’s “Serpentine” is a prime example. The trio’s Village Vanguard playlist contains Thelonious Monk’s “We See,” Jimmy Rowles’ “The Peacocks,” Paul McCartney’s “For No One,” and among several Hersch compositions a delicious solo piano encore, “Valentine.” Close listening to this album brings great rewards.