Bill Evans – Live in ’64 -’75

by | Sep 12, 2008 | Uncategorized | 0 comments

Bill Evans – Live in ’64 -’75

Jazz Icons Series 3
Studio: Reelin’ in the Years Productions (Distr. by Naxos)
Video: 4:3 B&W & color
Audio: DD mono
All regions
Extras: 24-page illustrated booklet
Length: 98 minutes
Rating: *****

(Bill Evans, piano; Chuck Israels, Niels-Henning Orsted Pederson, Eddie Gomez, bass; Larry Bunker, Alan Dawson, Marty Morell, Elliot Zigmund, drums. Special guest on My Melancholy Baby: Lee Konitz, alto sax)

Jazz Icons has truly provided an archival quality product with their Bill Evans Live ’64-’75 DVD, which provides mini-concerts from Sweden, France, and Denmark from 1964 to 1970, and then more extended sets back in Sweden in 1970 and in Denmark from 1975. This 98-minute DVD brings Evans from our accustomed vantage point of strictly an aural experience to a vivid video exploration. We’ve seen Evans in photos hunched over a Steinway, his head virtually a few inches from the piano keys in rapt concentration. His fans have imagined the intensity, and now we’re provided the pleasure of actually joining Bill on his musical journeys.

The interplay and simpatico that Bill had with his trios are now both an aural AND video feast for our eyes and ears. In a liner note interview provided with the DVD, bassist Israels reveals that Evans’ trios seldom rehearsed, but that Bill had the full organizational responsibility for his trios – it was just up to the rest of his rhythm sections to keep up with his mastery of the piano. They were given full rein for solos and counterpoint, and fills. Evans was among the first piano players to free a piano trio from the traditional concept of bass and drums only providing comping until it was time for their solos. Evans’ mates were full-fledged band members responsible for opening up a song’s traditional interpretations.

Along the eleven-year journey with Evans we see his appearance change from conservative suit, short hair, and clean-shaven presentation to a full beard, long hair, and a red sport coat and shirt. Five short years later in 1980, ravaged by drugs and poor health, Bill passed away in New York.

We are treated in our decade plus sojourn with Bill Evans to many of his best loved classics – My Foolish Heart, Emily, Someday My Prince Will Come, as well as the only home videos of Saureen Jurer, Blue Serge, and Twelve Tone Tune Two. Frosting on the cake is provided by the inclusion of icon altoist Lee Konitz joining the trio in France in 1965 for My Melancholy Baby.  

A solid five-star visual experience!

Sweden 1964: My Foolish Heart
France 1965: Detour Ahead, My Melancholy Baby
Denmark 1970: Emily, Alfie, Someday My Prince Will Come
Sweden 1970: If You Could See Me Now, ‘Round Midnight, Someday My Prince Will Come, Sleepin’ Bee, You’re Gonna Hear From Me, Re: Person I Knew
Denmark 1975: Saureen Jurer, Blue Serge, Up With the Lark, But Beautiful, Twelve Tone Tune Two

– Jeff Krow

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