Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Five Of My Favorite BILL EVANS Recordings In No Particular Order:


The successor to the original single LP, this three-CD set presents everything played by the short-lived but long admired Evans trio of that period. Surrounded by Scott LaFaro on bass and Paul Motian on drums, this group brings Evans along the road toward the super stardom he would eventually earn. Tragically, Scott LaFaro’s death from an auto accident made these sides even more important and I might add, treasured. The trio is peerless and is paving new jazz roads on nearly two dozen day brightening choices. LaFaro would change the role of the bass player forever. And Evans would grieve his loss for a long, long time. But this historically important set still stands as a groundbreaking, magnificent and timeless event.

MOONBEAMS – Riverside

After Scott LaFaro’s tragic loss, it was about a year until Evans would record again and when he did, this 1962 all-ballad studio set was the result. Present day Portland bassist Chuck Israels appears here with Evans and Motian on ten emotive beauties like “If You Could See Me Now”, “Very Early”, “Stairway To The Stars”, “I Fall In Love Too Easily” and more. Bill was always moved by emotion and romanticism. You’ll find both in abundance on this beautiful session.

ALONE – Verve

Bill Evans once told Marian McPartland on her radio program Piano Jazz that he loved the freedom and creative opportunities to play solo piano. This gorgeous effort finds him in sheer perfection on a wealth of material such as “Here’s That Rainy Day”, “A Time For Love”, “Midnight Mood”, “On A Clear Day” and others. On the CD version there are three bonus tracks for you to devour. It’s pretty much a given that Bill Evans playing solo was as close as we could ever get to musical heaven.


Towards the end of Evans’ short life of fifty-one years, his trio underwent more changes in personnel. Eddie Gomez remained on bass, but Eliot Zigmund assumed the drum chores. The year was 1977 and Bill had discovered Michel Legrand’s new masterpiece “You Must Believe In Spring”. By this time Evans had become much more orchestral in concept, and this session illustrates that rhapsodic magnificence. Other emotional outpourings include “The Peacocks”, “Sometime Ago”, “B Minor Waltz” and more. Great art is almost always easily recognizable. And here it is.

LIVE IN BUENOS AIRES, 1979 – West Wind

Bill’s very last trio was highly acclaimed and featured virtuoso Marc Johnson on bass, along with Joe LaBarbera who added new pleasures on drums. This live two-CD set, recorded about a year before Evans was lost to us in 1980, continues his incredible orchestral approach on both newer and longstanding favorites. I don’t know if he was aware that his time was running short. But Bill Evans puts it all out there, perhaps more than ever before.

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