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ADAM HERSH Releases "Tornado Watch"

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    Posted: 12 May 2024 at 12:43am



Coming May 17, 2024

ADAM HERSH - Tornado Watch cover

TORNADO WATCH, the newest album by keyboard player and composer ADAM HERSH, is an exciting modern jazz project recorded live at Sam First, a premier Los Angeles jazz club. It features nine original compositions and one creative reimagining of a jazz standard. TORNADO WATCH follows Hersh’s debut album, House Roots (2020), a synthesizer-focused, jazz fusion album recorded remotely during the pandemic lockdown.


Hersh’s compositions on TORNADO WATCH were influenced by several musical styles, including straight-ahead, Brazilian, classical, and even some Hip Hop, but are all infused with Hersh’s adventurous spirit and contemporary sensibilities. Hersh is part of a younger generation of jazz artists who appeal to a younger generation of jazz fans, helping keep the music fresh and vital.


Hersh plays piano as both a sideman with some of the top L.A. jazz musicians, as well as leading his own band. He has performed often at Sam First and chose to record there to capture the essence of a live performance. All the songs on TORNADO WATCH were recorded in just one session with just one overdub. Hersh plays piano, Rhodes, and the Moog Matriarch synthesizer on the album. Many of his compositions are quite daunting, so he brought on board for this recording old friends and peers who have their own burgeoning careers. Hersh met trumpeter EVAN ABOUNASSAR and saxophonist DEVIN DANIELS when he was 15 and attended music camp at Idyllwild, CA. Not only did he meet new friends there, working beside so many talented musicians his own age spurred him on to be a better musician and to make a career out of music. Also on this recording are ANDREW RENFROE (guitar), JERMAINE PAUL (bass), and MYLES MARTIN (drums).


Hersh grew up in Castaic, CA. His mother is a piano teacher, and he began studying at the age of four. He went on to California State University Northridge (CSUN), where he began composing and earned a bachelor's degree in jazz studies. Hersh explains why he was drawn to composing. “Playing your own music gives you much greater freedom. You aren’t working with someone else’s concepts. There is no template to draw from. Unless your composition is very derivative, it allows you to express yourself with your own, unique voice.”


Hersh’s desire to express his own creative ideas led him to the synthesizer. He says, “Everyone plays piano differently, but a piano always sounds like a piano. The synthesizer allows you to create your own sounds. You can make the music swell or growl or create whatever sound you had in mind. You can craft sounds from the ground up.”


Hersh cites Wayne Shorter and iconic fusion guitarist Allan Holdsworth as two major influences on his approach to composing. In 2022 and 2023, he undertook two large transcription and performance projects. The first was a full transcription of Shorter’s album High Life, a Grammy Award winning orchestral and fusion album released in 1995. The second project focused on a selection of compositions by Holdsworth, which he performed with long-time collaborator, Gary Novak, on drums.


The title song of the album “Tornado Watch,” was inspired by a tornado that hit New Orleans last year. Hersh and his partner were following the progress of the storm, because his partner’s sister lives in the city. The tune features Hersh on Rhodes. He thought the song title would make a good album title, because it reflects the overall theme that we are all watching a slow moving storm cutting a wide swath across this country and around the world.


Hersh opens the album with “Woe V Shade,” which he wrote on the day the Supreme Court handed down their decision about women’s reproductive freedom. The tune, which was influenced by Holdsworth’s harmonies, is propelled by Martin’s drumming and features Hersh on Rhodes with a guitar solo. “Parallel Motion” is an ironic title. Parallel fifths are progressions in which the interval of a perfect fifth is followed by a different perfect fifth between the same two musical parts. Using parallel fifths in some classical music is generally discouraged, so Hersh turned that dictum on its head by writing a composition based on parallel fifths. A phaser effect on the sax gives the tune a sharp edge.


“Toys” was written by Herbie Hancock. Hersh takes the hard bop, modal tune in a new direction by re-harmonizing it. Hersh opens the composition with a 12/8 groove based on an African rhythm called Maloya, a form of music, song and dance native to the Réunion Island, which is in the Indian Ocean. “In the Midst” has a slower groove and catchy melody. It features a guitar solo by Renfroe and Moog textures, which Hersh added after the initial recording. It is the only composition on the album with an overdub.


Hersh is a fan of the music of Guinga and wrote “Everlasting” with a swaying Brazilian feel. “Concessions” is the most straight-ahead tune on the album. Hersh wrote it as an homage to Cedar Walton. Each instrument takes a one chorus solo on this number.


“Do What You Will” is another Brazilian-influenced tune. Hersh composed it after reading a social media post by Marcel Camargo, a Brazilian born, L.A. resident. In his post Camargo asked people to send him original compositions, so Hersh wrote this piece. Camargo played it on his next show broadcast by Sam First via livestream for his many listeners.


“Expansion and Retention” has a difficult melody that changes constantly. The solos are played over a vamp rather than over the form, which is a more common approach. Hersh closes the album with “Propellant,” a foot-tapping number influenced by both Brazilian and Cuban music.


Adam Hersh is an accomplished player and a sophisticated composer, who has been building a solid reputation in Southern California. TORNADO WATCH features hip, modern writing, and superb musicianship.

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TORNADO WATCH will be available on Bandcamp and selected online platforms on May 17, 2024.






Edited by snobb - 12 May 2024 at 12:48am
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