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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, James Poore, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf



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BILL EVANS

Some Other Time : The Lost Session From The Black Forest

Resonance Records HCD 2019

 

 

 

 

 

Disc 1

1. You Go To My Head

2. Very Early

3. What Kind Of Fool Am I?

4. I'll Remember April

5. My Funny Valentine

6. Baubles, Bangles And Beads

7. Turn Out The Stars

8. It Could Happen To You

9. In A Sentimental Mood

10. The Foolish Things

11. Some Other Time

Disc 2

1. You're Gonna Hear From Me

2. Walkin' Up

3. Baubles, Bangles And Beads

4. It's All Right With Me

5. What Kind Of Fool Am I?

6. How About You?

7. On Green Dolphin Street

8. Wonder Why

9. Lover Man (Oh, Where Can You Be?)

10. You're Gonna Hear From Me

Bill Evans - Piano

Eddie Gomez - Bass (CD1 tracks 1-11, CD2 tracks 1-3, 5-8, 10)

Jack De Johnette - Drums (CD1 tracks 1, 2, 5, 7, 9, 11, CD2 tracks 1-3, 5-8, 10)

Bill Evans died at the age of only 51, back in 1980, the end of his life having been hastened by his struggle with drug addiction. Nevertheless, he left a living legacy through the subsequent careers of those jazz pianists he influenced – Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, Keith Jarrett, Fred Hersch and Brad Mehldau, to name but a few. In addition, there are still a wealth of recordings available of his playing in different contexts and at different times. This particular trio only existed for a few short months in 1968 since drummer Jack De Johnette's time with the group was brief. By way of contrast, bassist Eddie Gomez was with Evans for eleven years in all and, along with Scott La Faro, was widely regarded as one of the best musical partners Evans had. This line-up only made two recordings together, both of them on a 1968 tour of Europe. One of these was a live session at the Montreux Jazz Festival of that year. The story of how the tapes of this studio session, recorded in Villingen in the Black Forest region of Germany five days after the Montreux appearance, came to light, initially in 2013, is told by the intrepid Zev Feldman in the handsomely produced and informative booklet which accompanies this 2 CD set. Never before heard by a wider audience, Resonance Records have done us all a service by securing and releasing these discs. In his essay in the booklet, critic, author and blogger Marc Myers describes the music as shedding light on what he calls “Evans's transition from swinging romantic to percussive poet”. De Johnette and Gomez also contribute their reminiscences of that time in interviews with Feldman.

Well, to the music! Six of the tracks on the first disc feature the entire trio, the remaining five are simply Evans and Gomez. Pretty well all of the tunes on CD1 are recognised standards, the exception being a lesser known composition by Evans, Very Early. The standouts are My Funny Valentine, Turn Out The Stars and the title track, Some Other Time, for me one of the loveliest show tunes ever written. It's difficult to be original with a classic recorded by so many artistes as My Funny Valentine yet Evans manages to put his distinctive mark on the Richard Rodgers melody. Eschewing the lingering pace often to be found in more conventional treatments of the piece, Bill Evans really goes to town, totally inventive, while the excellent Eddie Gomez provides imaginative company and De Johnette is a model of restrained excellence, as so often. Turn Out The Stars, one of Bill's finest compositions, is played with consummate assurance by the composer. Some Other Time begins pensively and then allows us to hear Evans at his most lyrical. This almost reverent handling of the tune brings out its full beauty. Close behind these three tracks for quality are Baubles, Bangles and Beads, It Could Happen To You and Duke Ellington's In A Sentimental Mood.

The second disc has two takes on You're Gonna Hear From Me, which had been a pop hit for the then husband and wife team, André and Dory Previn, just a few years before. Both versions are subtly different but are so good that it is hard to express a preference between them. Evans is relaxed and in admirable form on either track while the group as a whole are very much in sync with one another. The alternate trio readings of What Kind Of Fool Am I? and Baubles, Bangles And Beads both edge the versions to be found on the first CD, though, to be fair, the Evans/Gomez partnership on the previous offerings fairly sings. On Green Dolphin Street, with its strong theme, is a trio highlight on CD2. There's also an incomplete but interesting solo interpretation of It's All Right With Me by Evans who demonstrates a fierce sense of attack, right hand working hard, before suddenly bailing out. He can also be heard on a solo version of Lover Man (Oh, Where Can You Be ?). There are plenty of satisfying moments elsewhere on both discs.

Much of this studio date, then, was brilliantly done, revealing Bill Evans in his prime and two other great musicians who do much more than make up the numbers, adding extra heft to the occasion. The extravagant gifts of Evans are indisputable. Two lesser known attributes come through listening to these recordings. The first is the way he invariably plays in such a way that, however inspired his improvisation becomes, the link with the melody is always preserved. If you like, he never goes completely AWOL. This helps the listener fully appreciate the imaginative leaps he can take. Secondly, he is capable of moments of complete self-effacement, especially on the duo tracks with Gomez. Finding these recordings after all these years is the equivalent of unearthing buried treasure. Fans of the piano trio must be very happy.

James Poore





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