A TOP JAZZ RECORD OF 2014. Floating marks a triumphant return to the studio for pianist Fred Hersch and his trio, and the album’s title is a perfect expression for the record’s feeling and his interaction with bassist John Hebert and drummer Eric McPherson. The format is a good one — Hersch programs the date to mirror his typical set list in a club setting and it’s one that grabs you at the outset with a bewitching “You And The Night and The Music,” an arrangement that skips along to a percussive beat, and closes with a Monk tune (“Let’s Cool One”), both tracks a primer for appreciating what Hersch refers to as “intelligent melody.” But in between it’s the original tunes that make this album click at an elite level. Hersch says “a good tune inhabits its own world” and cuts like the title track, which deftly pulls and stretches one musical motif in purposeful directions, or the Louisiana Bayou-flavored “Home Fries,” dedicated to Hebert, usher you into a zone that is sonically satisfying, yet also ripe with emotional pleasures. Now 59, Hersch’s recordings seem to get better and better, a remarkable achievement for a master pianist and leader whose rhapsodic style and rhythmic language imbues Floating with a quality that whispers “classic.” (10 tracks; 59 minutes)

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