By Kira Grunenberg | Published June 2020
Pianist Monika Herzig’s third release leading the all-woman jazz collective SHEroes—Eternal Dance—was forged out of support, empathy and humility, and arrives just as humanity is seeking emotional refuge.
Opening with Queen’s “We Are The Champions” seems like a choice derived from a desire to highlight self-empowerment—a key element of the ensemble. Yet, the rendition, beyond being set within the jazz genre, manages to shift the song’s delivery without changing its inherent mood. Herzig’s piano isn’t overly grandiose; rattling percussion makes sonically intriguing, yet delicate, splashes, and a softer timbre in Jamie Baum’s flute is chosen to carry the melody. The anthem’s energy is conveyed in a way befitting SHEroes’ approach to large-ensemble jazz; it’s both poised and spotlights powerful performances.
“Dear Geri” continues the approach. When its unambiguous 7/4 meter propels a bass line written based on the birthday of its late namesake, pianist and composer Geri Allen, the song becomes especially profound.
Herzig’s deference to others is another quietly enduring quality of the ensemble’s latest effort. Not only is prominence often given to other instrumentalists, but even the album’s solo piano closer, “Memories Of Petra”—which seems like a suitable place for Herzig to highlight her own personal and professional struggles—is dedicated to a friend.
Eternal Dance: We Are The Champions; Eternal Dance; Dear Geri; Rabbit; Fly High; We Can Be (S)Heroes; Fall In Reading; Seas Of Change; Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child; Up In The Sky; Memories Of Petra. (66:35)
Personnel: Monika Herzig, piano; Jamie Baum, flute; Reut Regev, trombone, vocals (10); Jennifer Vincent, bass; Rosa Avila, drums; Lakecia Benjamin, alto saxophone (1, 5); Leni Stern, guitar; Akua Dixon, cello (3, 6, 12); Mayra Casales, percussion (2, 4).