Jim Norton Collective – Time Remembered – Compositions of Bill Evans – Origin 82678, 62:26 ****:

(Tim Devine – soprano, alto saxes, piccolo, flute; Kristen Strom – tenor sax, flute, alto flute; Charlie McCarthy – tenor sax, flute, clarinet, bass clarinet; Jim Norton – baritone sax, bass flute, clarinet, contra alto clarinet, bassoon; Louis Fasman – trumpet, Flugelhorn; John L. Worley Jr. – trumpet, Flugelhorn; Cathleen Torres – French horn; Joel Behrman – trombone; Jeff Cressman – tenor & bass trombone; Scott Sorkin – guitar; Hohn Shifflett – bass; Jason Lewis – drums)

Often overlooked by his brilliant pianistic skills, Bill Evans’ efforts as a composer were impressive although they were more often harmonically intriguing, rather than accessible. Jim Norton has brought his impressive arranging skills to bear on a diverse selection of Evans material to create a sound pallet that delights the ear in his release Time Remembered: Compositions Of Bill Evans.

Among the compositions that Norton and the band have brought to life, there will be some that even the most erudite of Evans’ fans would be hard pressed to recognize. However there are many others that have Evans’ coloration, starting with “Time Remembered”. Filled with intricate interaction among the band members, it gives bassist John Shifflett a strong underpinning to bring his deep-toned bass work to the fore. A brief vignette entitled “NYC’s No Lark” is an anagram for Sonny Clark, the hard-bop pianist and a close friend of Evans. He wrote the tune after Clark passed away very early in his life from a heart attack, primarily brought on by drug and alcohol abuse. Evans included it his Conversations With Myself recording.

“Interplay” which has a subtle blues-line and features trombonist Joel Behman and guitarist Scott Sorkin, was included on the same titled Evans album completed with guitarist Jim Hall. Evans began composing while attending Southeastern Louisiana University, and in fact, his first composition written in 1949, was the aptly entitled “Very Early” and even then, his writing was harmonically intricate. Another one of Evans’ pieces that had a strong personal connection was “Peri’s Scope” which was written for a long-time companion Peri Cousins. Norton explores the composition’s temperament with astute chord-voicing, and showcases Jeff Cressman on trombone, Charlie McCarthy on tenor sax and Louis Fasman on trumpet.

Without a piano as part of this compelling multi-instrumental aggregation, Jim Norton built an expressive relationship to the Evans material and has teased out a self-assured recording.

TrackList: Fudgesickle Built For Four; Time Remembered; Journey To Recife; Five; NYC’s No Lark; Interplay; Walkin’ Up; Very Early; Bill’s Hit Tune; Peri’s Scope; Twelve Tone Tune; Laurie; Comrade Conrad; Fudgesickle Built For Four; 34 Skidoo

—Pierre Giroux