Bill Evans – Live at Ronnie Scott’s – Two 180 gm audiophile vinyl LPs – Resonance Records HLP 9046 – June 1968 – ****
Limited Edition of 7000 numbered sets- Street Date: 11/27/20
2 CD set to be released 12/4/20
(Bill Evans – piano; Eddie Gomez – acoustic bass; Jack DeJohnette – drums)
Resonance Records is releasing their third collection of previously unissued Bill Evans live recordings, that featured a trio with bassist, Eddie Gomez, and drummer, Jack DeJohnette. This grouping was short lived (six months) in 1968, as Jack joined Miles Davis soon after these recordings. In June, 1968, the trio had just concluded performing at the Montreux Jazz Festival, and began a full month residency at Ronnie Scott’s jazz club, the most famous jazz club in England, and still going strong today. It was an opportunity to settle in, relax, and let Bill emote, backed by ace musicians who could provide color, and assist Evans in his innate ability to make familiar standards sound uniquely different each time.
The twenty tracks came from the personal archives of Jack DeJohnette. They have been remastered by Bernie Grundman, and pressed on 180 gm vinyl by RTI. DeJohnette recorded these tracks with a recorder placed in Evans’ piano located near Eddie Gomez’ bass. The acoustics, although not pristine, still bring in the ambiance of the club, and Eddie’s bass timbre is very well recorded.
Resonance Records co- president, Zev Feldman, has worked his magic again in working with Bill Evans’ estate, to help bring to the public major historical jazz recordings that have sat largely untouched for decades. Luckily, we still have Eddie and Jack still with us to provide commentary in excellent liner notes. In addition there is an essay by British jazz authority, Brian Priestley, as well as transcripts of discussions about Evans from pianist, Chick Corea. Feldman adds a conversation with Chevy Chase, who spent considerable time with Evans, while Chase was attending Bard College. What makes this issue even more special, are previously unpublished photos of the trio from 1968, by Francois Jaquenod, and a collectors lithograph cover drawing of Bill, by David Stone Martin, whose artwork has graced the covers of many iconic albums of the 1950s Verve Group.
The song selection is prime Evans’ material. Three songs are given a second reading, and it’s a fun chore to determine which you might prefer. DeJohnette points out in the liner notes that Evans usually had a set intro and ending when he played standards. It was the extended “middle” when Bill would let his imagination go, whether adjusting the tempo, or embellishing the melody. The constant is a consistent lyricism that provides a contentment that is so treasured by his fans, and makes any new issuance of previous unavailable material a major occasion.
Having Eddie Gomez aboard just adds to its value, as he is such a melodic soloist who can both dialogue, and provide the bottom end needed. DeJohnette is also noted for his piano skills, so he is a perfect drummer to add sparkle, and heft when it is needed.
Several tracks stand out for comment on this set. “My Man’s Gone Now” from Porgy and Bess, is done in double time, instead of its more prevalent waltz time. There are two versions of “Emily,” (I prefer the second), and its familiar theme always is so comforting. “Embraceable You” is a feature for Eddie Gomez, and it’s one of the better recorded tracks. It helps us appreciate Eddie’s skills as a soloist, which have been compared to a horn player, in his ability to enhance a song.
“Someday My Prince Will Come” is ten choruses long, and includes a vigorous DeJohnette drum solo.
“Alfie” is such a treat, and will bring back welcome memories of the movie. “Turn Out the Stars” was written by Bill for his father, and its haunting 40 bar melody drips with emotion.
Whether it be the hand numbered LP box set, or the more affordable CD version, this is a holiday purchase that comes highly recommended for fans of the piano genius, Bill Evans.
A Sleepin’ Bee
You’re Gonna Hear From Me (version 1)
Turn Out the Stars
My Man’s Gone Now
Emily (version 1)
Spring is Here
For Heaven’s Sake
Someday My Prince Will Come
Stella By Starlight
You’re Gonna Hear From Me (version 2)
Emily (version 2)
Waltz for Debby
For more information, visit Resonance Records website: