New Stuff From an Old Friend

Come With Me (Owl Records)
Monika Herzig

By Martin Kasdan Jr.

Pianist Monika Herzig, of Bloomington, Ind., has been a welcome guest in Louisville for many years, dating back to her appearances at Hawley-Cooke Booksellers with her fusion band, Beeblebrox, and more recently with her trio at the Jazz Factory.

Come With Me, just released in March, is a package with a CD plus an autobiographical DVD which also contains a few musical performances. The CD features nine ensemble performances with Kenny Phelps on drums and Frank Smith on bass, plus a solo rendition of "Georgia." They are joined on various cuts by Herzig's husband, Peter Kienle on guitar, Tom Clark on saxes and flute, Carolyn Dutton on violin, and, on her original composition "Olé," by percussionist Joe Galvin.

Indeed, six of the 10 pieces are by Herzig. She opens with her musical response to audience members who ask her to sing, "The Pianists Say," or, as she says in her liner notes, "I sing with my fingers." The title song is played instrumentally, featuring Dutton's violin, and is also included on the DVD with a recitation by Indiana Poet Laureate Norbert Krapf.

"Olé" features flute, percussion and violin in a piece with a feel similar to Chick Corea's "Armando's Rhumba." Bob Dylan's "Blowing in the Wind," is reimagined as a piano trio ballad with subtle mallet work supporting Herzig's delicate explorations. "Italian Taxi Ride" sounds Monk-inspired, and opens up for a violin solo quoting a famous Gershwin tune (no spoiler here!), followed by sax and then bass solos. Herzig's arrangement of Cole Porter's "What Is This Thing Called Love?" has a slight Hot Club feel, while the following original, "Heavy Burden," switches gears to the funkiest performance on the CD, with Kienle's searing guitar.

Paul Simon's "Still Crazy After All These Years"is perhaps the most conventional arrangement of the covers here, played with a straightforward groove. "Paradise on Ice" features the interplay of Herzig's piano and Kienle's acoustic guitar. After offering generous space to her fellow musicians throughout this recording, Herzig brings it all back home with her a cappella rendition of Hoagy Carmichael's classic "Georgia."

Monika Herzig is overdue for a return to Louisville, and perhaps this new release will provide her the opportunity to do so.

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