Jazz pianist Bill Evans was famously introspective: a junkie and an innovator, reserved by all accounts and tortured too. It’s a great story. You hear his impressionist jazz, his gossamer touch on ballads and his refined ability to swing, and the sense of the man drips through to your ears.
Moonbeams was the first recording that Evans made after the tragic early death of his brilliant bass player, Scott LaFaro. By all accounts, Evans (and the trio’s drummer, Paul Motian too) was devastated by the loss. No surprise then that Moonbeams was a collection of ballads. A sad record, a tender piece of art.
But there is some of the quarterback present in this record too. Evans may have suffered a blow, but his game comes back strong and clear in this recording. Made in the studio and possessing a much clearer sound balance than the more famous “Live at the Village Vanguard” records with LaFaro, Moonbeams is an 80-yeard touchdown pass. It is one of best piano trio records in the history of the music. It’s a classic, a template for the future, a slice of pure genius.
This reissue comes on the 50th birthday of this record. But every listen is like the first time: delicious.
Read the entire review here: Bill Evans Trio: Moonbeams on PopMatters.