Revel in an evening of jazz genius Jan. 18 with Fred Hersch, esperanza spalding

Hersch, called by The New Yorker “a living legend,” and Grammy Award winner spalding celebrate the release of their album “Alive at the Village Vanguard” with a performance at UAB’s Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center.

stream Esperenza Spalding Web Art 6.9esperanza spalding and Fred HerschFifteen-time Grammy Award-winning jazz pianist Fred Hersch and vocalist esperanza spalding, cited by NPR as “the 21st century’s first jazz genius,” will perform 7 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 18, at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

An Evening with Fred Hersch and esperanza spalding” is presented by UAB’s Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center. Tickets are $35, $45 and $55, with $10 student tickets. UAB employees can enjoy $15 off two tickets. Discounted tickets are limited. Call 205-975-2787 or visit for tickets.

Join the Alys Stephens Center for a free, 30-minute Q-and-A with spalding and Hersch at 3 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 18. Students who attend will get a free ticket to the show.

Hersch, called by The New Times “a living master,” and multiple Grammy Award winner spalding are celebrating the release of their album “Alive at the Village Vanguard,” recorded at the legendary club for a packed and rapturous audience. Spalding is revealed as a worthy heir of the leading ladies of jazz vocals; Hersch calls her “an absolutely fearless, awesome jazz singer.”

The remarkable chemistry of their partnership is deep, exhilarating and not to be missed. They will present an evening of songs from the great American songbook, music from Brazil and jazz compositions, including several penned by Hersch. 

The pair are featured on the cover of Downbeat magazine for January 2023. Downbeat writes their friendship began a decade ago, when the pianist first invited the singer, bassist and composer to share the stage with him during his long-standing duo series at the Jazz Standard in New York. Since then, they have reprised their duet performances, including in 2018 at Hersch’s 63rd birthday bash at the Vanguard, an event he had the prescience to document: “I just had a feeling,” he said. “It’s lightning in a bottle.”

In 2011, spalding won the Grammy for Best New Artist, the first jazz artist to win in this category, beating artists Justin Bieber, Drake, Florence and the Machine, and Mumford and Sons. As a child, spalding was inspired by cellist Yo-Yo Ma, whom she saw perform on the children’s television show “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,” and taught herself to play the violin at an early age. By the time she was 5, she had earned a place in the local community orchestra, the Chamber Music Society of Oregon.

Hersch is an influential creative force who has shaped the course of jazz music over more than three decades as an improviser, composer, educator, bandleader, collaborator and recording artist, according to his biography. Hersch has regularly garnered jazz’s most prestigious awards, including recent distinctions as a 2016 Doris Duke Artist, 2016 and 2018 Jazz Pianist of the Year from the Jazz Journalists Association, and the 2017 Prix Honorem de Jazz from L’Acádemie Charles Cros. He recently placed as No. 2 Jazz Musician of the Year in the 2021 DownBeat Critics Poll and was named No. 3 Jazz Pianist. He was also honored as the 2021 International Jazz Artist of the Year by Jazz Magazine (France).