Bill Evans – (includes bonus disc) Riverside RCD-30071-2, Disc 1 – 60:00, Disc 2 – 46:06 ****:
(with Jim Hall, Percy Heath, Freddie Hubbard, Chuck Israels, Philly Joe Jones & others)
Chet Baker – (includes same bonus disc) Riverside RCA-30073-2, Disc 1 – 56:36; Disc 2 – 46;06 ****:
(with Kenny Burrell, Paul Chambers, Kenny Drew, Bill Evans, Sam Jones, Connie Kay, Herbie Mann, Zoot Sims & others)
This series is worthwhile because the selections really are the big hits of most of the artists, you get a second bonus CD, and the price is right. It gets a demerit for the provided bonus disc being exactly the same with each of the Profiles, however. Though it is thoughtful of Riverside and Concord to include among the eight tracks on the bonus CD one more track by the profiled artist which doesn’t duplicate those on the main CD.
If you unbelievably have no Bill Evans album in your collection this is the one you’ve got to pick up. Waltz for Debby, Speak Low, Peace Piece, and Re: Person I Knew are all here. (The last was a tribute to Orrin Keepnews, who as one of the two founders of Riverside produced all of Evans for them.) And you’ll also wind up with tracks by some other great jazz pianists on the bonus disc: Bobby Timmons and Thelonious Monk, plus those in the groups featuring Wes Montgomery, Chet Baker, Charlie Byrd, Art Blakey & Cannonball Adderley.
Bill Evans TrackList: Blue in Green, Waltz for Debby, Isn’t It Romantic, My Man’s Gone Now, How My Heart Sings, Israel, Re: Person I Knew, Speak Low, Interplay, Peace Piece
The 11 Chet Baker tracks all come from 1958-59, with the trumpeter and vocalist working mostly in quartets, quintets and sextets, though there are some tracks with strings – two of them recorded in Milan. Baker’s vocals are heard on two of the tracks; this was a period when his overly light but sexy voice gained more support and finesse. It’s an interesting coincidence that both Baker and Evans were heroin addicts and yet somehow produced much great music. The addiction’s effect on ruining Baker’s life and appearance was more pronounced than the case with Evans. Again, the choice of the tracks here is first rate. Look:
TrackList: Look for the Silver Lining, On the Street Where You Live, Polka Dots and Moonbeams, Do It the Hard Way, Fair Weather, September Song, Tune Up, The More I You, Alone Together, Street of Dreams, Almost Like Being in Love.
– John Henry