“Pianist and composer Erich Hirsh can play pretty much anything you throw at him. When he’s not leading his jazz quartet (Aaron Hill on saxophone, Peter Kimosh on bass, and Stephen Coffman on drums), he’s helping drive the progressive hip-hop of The Beast or the salsa shake of Orquesta GarDel. His original compositions have a propulsive thrust that combines a minimalist drive with the complex, expressive melodies. He’s one of the area’s best.”
“The big innovation around what makes this Cuban popular dance music, and not French or English, is the rhythm,” Hirsh explains. “Cinquillo is the big innovation here. You do not find that in European classical music.”
Eric Hirsh is a monumental contributor to the Durham based Hip-Hop band, The Beast. They recently dropped a new EP called “Stories.” However, this pianist, composer, and producer is also a co-director for a Latin Dance music making group called, Orquesta GarDel. It felt only right I chopped it up with him at the end of 2014 to get his insight about Durham and its growing music scene.
“The new audience doesn’t know what jazz is and doesn’t care what jazz is,” Hirsh says. “They just want to hear good music.”
The breadth of that power comes into clearest focus when The Beast plays with their Big Band configuration, augmenting their typical lineup of bass, keys and drums with strings, horns, additional percussion and robust vocal backing.
The Beast is, without doubt, one of the strongest live acts in North Carolina…As performers, the four guys that make up The Beast are a conduit, transmitting incredible energy to their audience. On Wednesday, their role wasn’t really different. They simply utilized the added players as another power source, growing their intensity to match the ensemble’s exaggerated sound. The results were organic and overwhelming, more the work of a practiced touring outfit than a one-off collaboration. Here’s hoping the night’s success inspires The Beast to bulk up more often.
GarDel features some of the area’s premier musicians, from jazz pianist Eric Hirsh…to dynamic, vivacious frontman Nelson Delgado. A tight band willing to take unexpected instrumental chances (those horns have a mind of their own sometimes, no?), GarDel passes its fun around.