Bill Evans – Another Time/The Hilversum Concert – Resonance Records 

Bill Evans – Another Time/The Hilversum Concert – Resonance Records HCD-2031 [with 30-page booklet], 46:09 ****1/2:

(Bill Evans – piano; Eddie Gomez – double bass; Jack DeJohnette – drums)

Nearly four decades after his death, Bill Evans is making news. Producer Zev Feldman discovered a rare live recording of the short-lived trio that consisted of Evans, bassist Eddie Gomez` and drummer Jack DeJohnette. Some Other Time: The Lost Sessions from The Black Forest (1968) proved to be a critical success upon its release in 2016. Evan’s mastery of harmonic interpretation, chord blocking and “singing lines” transformed the jazz landscape. His participation on Miles Davis’ modal-themed Kind Of Blue elevated him to stardom. As a solo artist, Evans had a prolific career in jazz ensemble (primarily trio) and solo recordings. The resurfacing of a second live set is nothing short of historic.

Another Time/The Hilverson Concert is an inspired piano trio set which does a lot to support Evans’ fans assertion that this instrumental configuration reveled Evans’ artistry at its apex.The opening track is a surprising diversion, Andre and Dory Previn’s endearing “You’re Gonna Hear From Me”. The song (written for the movie Inside Daisy Clover) has been recorded by the likes of Frank Sinatra, Shirley Bassey, Barbra Streisand, Stanley Turrentine and Andy Williams. Ironically, Evans recorded this song in 1982  on California Here I Come. Here the trio adopts a jaunty medium swing as Evans lays out some nuanced chords and Eddie Gomez percussively glides on double bass. DeJohnette offers subtle drumming counterpoint to flesh out the jam. Evans’ trademark solo mixes strong right hand notation and ends with descending chords. Next up is a cascading waltz-time original (“Very Early”) that morphs into a finger-snapping vibe. DeJohnette is graceful on brush, and Gomez has a scintillating run. This is no “standard” trio. The players are pushing each other and the essence of Bill Evans’ musicality is never obscured.

Great jazz pianists are capable of transforming popular music. On the Leslie Bricusse/Anthony Newley favorite, “Who Can I Turn To?” (from the Broadway show, Stop The World I Want To Get Off”), the trio uses the framework of the composition to elicit the inherent chemistry. Gomez and Evans have back-to-back solos. Evans has always been intuitive in his selection of material. So the inclusion of Burt Bacharach’s “Alfie” (from the movie of the same name) is more than appropriate. This complex assortment of minor 7ths, diminished 7ths and the occasional major has a core jazzy structure. Evans can roll with the song and intonate with small changes, including stylistic flourishes and ethereal phrasing. Again DeJohnette is stellar on brush. At the 2:30 mark, the tempo gets a lift with Gomez pushing it. Evans articulates the soul of this romantic piece.

Gomez jumpstarts “Embraceable You” (can never go wrong with Gershwin) with a spirited solo and lead as Evans lends support with well-timed chording. But the instinctive understanding for compositional fluency is showcased on Johnny Mandel/Johnny Mercer’s movie theme “Emily”. The atmospheric, lyrical melody is manipulated gently by Evans’ deft touch which includes a couple of tempo shifts to 3/4 time. Miles Davis had the highest regard for Bill Evans. So it is fitting that the trio takes on Miles in the longest cut, “Nardis” (8:34) on the CD. Evans is at his syncopated best with a cool jazz setup to Gomez’s solo. When Bill returns at 2:30, he swings with precision and bluesy chops. DeJohnette gets a 4 minute solo to showcase his versatile drumming licks. Evans concludes with a pair of originals. “Turn Out The Stars” is the complete Evans package. Gentle swing, tempo/mood adjustments and dream-like aesthetics keep the pianist center-stage for the entire track. And there is a big finale in the bop-influenced “Five” (from the 1957 Riverside recording New Jazz Conceptions). It is improvisational jazz at its finest.

Bill Evans Another Time/The Hilverson Concert is another valuable addition to any jazz collection. The set is terrific and Evans, Gomez and DeJohnette perform like they had been together for years (rather than months). The audio quality is excellent, the mix is even. There is adequate instrument separation. The piano tones are crisp and have minimal string reverberation. The drum brush and cymbal are woven intricately into the overall mix. Gomez’s bass is powerful, but doesn’t “over-muscle” the trio. There is an incisive 30-page booklet featuring interviews with Gomez, DeJohnette and  liner notes by the redoubtable Zev Feldman. This unearthing of fifty-year old Bill Evans live material is exhilarating and is certain to stimulate the appetites of jazz fans around the world.

 TrackList: 
You’re Gonna Hear From Me
Very Early
Who Can I Turn To?
Alfie
Embraceable You
Emily
Nardis
Turn Out The Stars
Five

—Robbie Gerson

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