Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Bill Evans' "Another Time: The Hilversum Concert"

This surprising release comes with an interesting backstory.

Last year, Resonance Records released Some Other Time: The Lost Session from the Black Forest, a studio session by the short-lived (six months in 1968) and under-recorded (a single, live-at-Montreux album) Bill Evans trio with the estimable rhythm section of bassist Eddie Gomez and drummer Jack Dejohnette. Not long after that, they were contacted by a fan who had a copy of a live broadcast that same Evans trio had recorded for Dutch radio, a couple of days after the Black Forest session and a week after their Montreux stand.

The Dutch radio tape proved to be a lost gem, documenting a looser and more assured performance than either of the previous releases, in comparable-to-studio quality. (All music fans should take a knee in thanks to the European national radio and TV stations that documented so much great music, jazz and rock as well as classical.) Then began a race against the clock, as Resonance sought sign-offs from the rights-holders (Universal Music Group, the Evans estate, Gomez and Dejohnette) so they could release the music legitimately before another, less scrupulous outfit who also had the material beat them to it.

None of which would matter if the music wasn't stellar. It is.

In 1968, Gomez had been playing with Evans for two years -- a gig he kept for over a decade -- and by his account in an accompanying interview, he was still working out his sound. You'd never guess that from his nimble solos on several of the tunes here, and the melodic dialogues he conducts with Evans, proving himself a worthy successor to the virtuoso Scott LaFaro. Dejohnette, having started his career as a pianist, was in between career-making stints with Charles Lloyd and Miles Davis, and still processing the influence of Tony Williams, but he performs with admirable restraint (and brushes) here, and solos to good effect on Miles' composition "Nardis."

A classically-trained pianist who explored modal jazz with George Russell before joining Miles' sextet, Evans is known for a brooding, introspective style that he perfected after leaving Miles (whose Kind of Blue has his fingerprints all over it) and forming his trio with the aforementioned LaFaro and drummer Paul Motian. On Another Time, the Gomez-Dejohnette tandem propels him into an energetic and animated performance, from the opening "You're Gonna Hear From Me" (a '66 Andy Williams hit) to Evans' customary closer "Five." Evans explores melodies with his characteristic elegant simplicity, whether playing show tunes -- Anthony Newley's "Who Can I Turn To?" gets a lively treatment, while Bacharach-David's "Alfie" is taken at a leisurely clip -- or his own compositions, including the sprightly waltz "Early On" (everybody might dig Bill Evans, but Bill dug waltzes, and not just for Debby) and the gorgeous ballad "Turn Out the Stars."

For lovers of jazz piano splendor, Resonance's Evans discoveries are as welcome additions to the canon as Monk and Trane at Carnegie Hall, or Jaki Byard's Keystone Korner series. And that's very welcome indeed.


Post a Comment

<< Home