Fred Hersch, piano; Kurt Elling, vocals; and Kate McGarry, vocals: "Leaves of Grass"
Music by Fred Hersch Words by Walt Whitman Jazz composer and pianist Fred Hersch’s "Leaves of Grass" premiered at Carnegie Hall in 2005. It celebrates the life and poetry of the American bard Walt Whitman, whose work redefined American poetry and had a significant, life-affirming impact on Hersch. Led by Hersch on piano, an eight-piece ensemble evokes sweeping melodicism, while vocalists Kurt Elling and Kate McGarry present Whitman’s words with grace, emotion, and lyrical sweetness. It has been over 160 years since Whitman wrote his epic masterwork, "Song of Myself," the centerpiece of Hersch’s "Leaves of Grass," and its messages seemed almost alien to society at the time. Now, its promotion of unapologetic love for one’s true self, appreciation of the present, wonder at the miracle of nature, and the openhearted love of all beings is especially timely and important. It is a powerful experience to witness this profound poetry spun into song by one of today’s leading musical visionaries.