Bill Evans Trio – On A Friday Evening – Craft Recordings

by | Jul 27, 2021 | Jazz CD Reviews, SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews | 0 comments

Craft Recordings releases a terrific 1975 Bill Evans Trio live set…on vinyl!

Bill Evans Trio – On A Friday Evening – Craft Recordings CR00301 (20210 180-gram stereo vinyl, 60:31****1/2:

(Bill Evans – piano; Eddie Gomez – double bass; Eliot Zigmund – drums)

In the jazz world, there have been many influential pianists. Among the greatest are Art Tatum, Thelonious Monk, Bud Powell, Keith Jarrett, Oscar Peterson and McCoy Tyner. Another of these icons is Bill Evans. His affinity for lyrical interpretation of melodic ballads was a key component of his success. But his unique swing mode (inspired by bebop and classical) also helped to define his legacy. Live recordings by Evans are considered to be among his finest achievements, most notably Waltz For Debby and Sunday At The Village Vanguard featuring the original trio with Scott Lafaro  and Paul Motian. Evans’ life was tragically cut short at the age of 51 in 1980. Despite his personal struggles, his discography was consistent and brilliant. It is always newsworthy when new digital and analogue material become available. Craft Recordings has released a 5-disc, 60-track compilation titled Everybody Still Digs Bill Evans. Included is Bill Evans Trio On A Friday Evening a previously unreleased  1975 concert in Vancouver B.C. with Eddie Gomez on double bass and Eliot Zigmund on drums. 

Portrait Bill Evans by Steve Shapiro, 1961

Bill Evans, 1961
by Steve Shapiro

The 180-gram double vinyl of On A Friday Evening is another quintessential live Bill Evans recording that reflects his setlist from this era. Side A opens with a cover of Earl Zindars’ “Sareen Jurer”. Evans, who met this classical/jazz composer in the service recorded at least a half-dozen off his songs. Evans opens with his trademark melancholy, but morphs into a gentle, but syncopated waltz-time signature. Zigmund’s snare and Gomez’s walking bass join in a complicated rhythmic lockstep that launches Evans’ articulate solos. Gomez’s double bass solo is edgy like a guitar while his trio mates fill in competently. After a gentle build up, Evans closes the number with a complicated descent. Reaching into his own catalogue, “Sugar Plum” showcases the collaborative synergy, as all three musicians distill the ethereal resonance of Evans, but manage to energize the low-key swagger in a straight-ahead  jam. Side B introduces an original composition  “The Two Lonely People” (a collaboration with Carol & Jim Hall). Here, the listener gets the essence of ballad translated to 3/4 time by a true master pianist. Evans is giving voice through the music. Bill executes a daunting task of tightly constructed music that is also fluid and accessible. His chording is intuitive and exudes jazz shading and context. Both Gomez and Zigmund interact with the pianist, while allowing for individual runs. Next up is the wildly inventive “T.T.T. (Twelve Tone Tune)” from The Bill Evans Album. After a trademark opening interlude, Gomez sets a breathless tone with his galloping double bass, leading into an exchange of vigorous piano chords trading off with a drum response. The group moves along at an enhanced tempo. Gomez adds a bowed bass before throwing it back to Bill. The unusual time signature elevates this performance. Evans’ deep feeling for melody and space is captured on “Quiet Now”. Atmospheric in delivery, there is a slight tempo uptick that infuses the number with gentle swing. Evans’ piano lines are eloquent and highly expressive.

Side C draws on two of America’s most beloved popular songwriters. The incomparable Jerome Kern composed “Up With The Lark” for the film, Centennial Summer. As he had done so many times before, Evans adds a jazzy pulse to re-frame the waltz-time of this amiable movie ditty. He glides through the deliberate part of the song to focus on improvisational swing. When he and Gomez trade licks, it is fluid. Irving Berlin’s “How Deep Is The Ocean” is a perennial standard, noteworthy for not being attached to a show or film. Evans adopts a finger-snapping jazz arrangement with a considerable amount of right hand notation. He adds countering left-hand chords. “Blue Serge” was written by one of the greatest composers in history, Duke Ellington. It was famously recorded by baritone saxophonist, Serge Chaloff. Evans pays homage to the graceful sophistication of Ellington with impeccable timing and measured phrasing. His playing is hypnotic. The finale showcases the pianist’s mentor and jazz legend Miles Davis, on his masterpiece “Nardis”. Evans played on the original Cannonball Adderley version. There is a high level of complexity (utilization of the Phrygian mode and minor Gypsy scales). This near eleven-minute number opens with a jaunty solo piano run that involves significant counter themes in both hands. At the 2:39 mark, Gomez and Zigmund join the modal statement. Gomez returns to bowed double bass as the drummer matches the intensity. Evans follows with a well-paced, gliding run that is as good as any he’s done. His ability to vary the tempo and finesse the trio is extraordinary. Zigmund gets a well-deserved extended solo before the group draws to a close in cool jazz style.

This is another great achievement for Craft Recordings. Evans delivers an excellent performance. The sound quality of the “live” recording is very good! 

Side A: Sareen Jurer; Sugar Plum
Side B: The Two Lonely People; T.T.T. (Twelve Tone Tune); Quiet Now
Side C: Up With The Lark; How Deep Is The Ocean
Side D: Blue Serge; Nardis   

—Robbie Gerson

For more information, please visit Craft Recordings website:

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Bill Evans Trio - On A Friday Evening, Album Cover

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