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"If you ain't got it in you, you can't blow it out."
— Louis Armstrong

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Bill Evans: The Sesjun Radio Shows

Everybody digs Bill Evans—the brilliant and tortured and massively influential jazz pianist whose playing from the late '50s through the 1970s was never anything less than beautiful and compelling. Though he is best known for his impressionistic approach to ballads, he was in fact a completely versatile modern jazz player whose rhythmic innovations was as strong as his use of harmonies picked up from Ravel and Debussy.

Here is a new two-disc set of three concerts in Europe, recorded perfectly in 1973, 1975 and 1979. The first finds him playing only with the melodic and brilliant bassist Eddie Gomez. The second puts him with Gomez and drummer Eliot Zigmund, and the third features his last trio (with drummer Joe LaBarbara and Macc Johnson on bass) alone and then with guest harmonica player Toots Thielemans.

My full review on PopMatters of Bill Evans: The Sesjun Radio Shows can he found HERE.

These recordings are flat-out terrific, showcasing everything that was wonderful about the great pianist. Evans is one of the handful of modern pianists who is most influential on contemporary players. Younger jazz fans will hear Brad Mehldau and many other great player's debts to Evans here. His takes on standards are always lovely and ingenious, and his original tunes could only have come from Bill. But the center of Evans' legacy is the way that his trios interact—though one player may be "soloing" at any one time, every player is in continual and nearly co-equal dialogue all the time. There is a rare balance in these bands.

It's great music, heard here for the first time. Thanks, Bill.

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