From Miles Davis' Doo-Bop to albums by Greg Osby and Steve Coleman, much of the "jazz/rap fusion" released has been more hip-hop than jazz – essentially, hip-hop with jazz overtones. Bill Evans, however, has featured rappers in much the way a hard bopper would feature a singer – on "Reality" and the poignant, reggae-influenced "La Di Da," rapper Ahmed Best successfully interacts with an actual, spontaneous, improvisatory band instead of merely pre-recorded tracks. Best's rapping style – a cerebral approach akin to De La Soul and A Tribe Called Quest instead of more hardcore rappers like Tupac Shakur and Ice-T – is well-suited to this challenging and complex jazz-fusion setting.
Live at Ronnie Scott's is the third official Resonance release of previously-unissued recordings of the Bill Evans trio with Eddie Gomez and Jack DeJohnette. The nearly 2 hours of music has been remastered from the original tape reels. Live at Ronnie Scott's was captured in July of 1968. On the cover of this deluxe 2CD set is a never-before-published drawing by artist and illustrator David Stone Martin. Package includes an extensive booklet with rare photos, essays and interviews.
Portrait In Jazz (1960). The first of two studio albums by the Bill Evans-Scott LaFaro-Paul Motian trio (both of which preceded their famous engagement at the Village Vanguard), this Portrait in Jazz reissue contains some wondrous interplay, particularly between pianist Evans and bassist LaFaro, on the two versions of "Autumn Leaves." Other than introducing Evans' "Peri's Scope," the music is comprised of standards, but the influential interpretations were far from routine or predictable at the time. LaFaro and Motian were nearly equal partners with the pianist in the ensembles and their versions of such tunes as "Come Rain or Come Shine," "When I Fall in Love," and "Someday My Prince Will Come" (which preceded Miles Davis' famous recording by a couple years) are full of subtle and surprising creativity. A gem…
Recorded during pianist Bill Evans' last visit to England (less than two months before his death), Evans is heard with one of his finest trios on Letter to Evan, the unit with bassist Marc Johnson and drummer Joe La Barbera. The recording quality of the live set (recorded at Ronnie Scott's) is excellent, and Evans is in surprisingly enthusiastic and creative form; there is no hint that the end is near. Highlights of the very worthwhile release include "Days of Wine and Roses" (which alternates back and forth between two keys), "Knit for Mary F.," and "Stella by Starlight." Easily recommended for true Bill Evans fans.
I had assumed that these recordings fit into the category of “he plays well under the circumstances.” Forget the qualifiers. Listening to this set and the previously released The Last Waltz is a bit like sharing the experience of the wild-eyed poet who has returned from feasting on the milk of paradise in Coleridge’s “Kubla Khan.” After tasting such nectar, nothing henceforward can satisfy the palette. So if the two sets (16 discs) comprising Evans’ last stand seem extravagant in quantity and price, consider the possibility that they represent the musical equivalent of Keats’ Grecian Urn, offering “all ye know and need to know.”
Tony Scott led several small groups of various sizes during the month of November 1957, resulting in three separate LPs being issued by Seeco, Carlton, and Perfect without duplicating any of the 24 tracks. This Fresh Sound two-CD set collects everything recorded during these sessions. Scott's core group features pianist Bill Evans (not long after he was discharged from military service), either Milt Hinton or Henry Grimes on bass, and drummer Paul Motian. In addition to his powerful clarinet, Scott plays a potent baritone sax on six selections.
THE COMPLETE BILL EVANS ON VERVE is an 18-disc, 269-track box set featuring every track that Bill Evans recorded for Verve between 1962 and 1969, including 98 previously-unreleased tracks. It includes a 160-page, full-color book. THE COMPLETE BILL EVANS ON VERVE was nominated for a 1998 Grammy Award for Best Recording Package - Boxed and for Best Historical Album. The 18 CDs in this exhaustive set provide a comprehensive picture of Bill Evans from 1962 to 1969, a period when the pianist was both consolidating his fame and sometimes taking his music into untested waters, from unaccompanied piano to symphony orchestra. His work with multitracked solo piano, originally released as Conversations with Myself and the later Further Conversations with Myself, was the most remarkable new format for his introspective music. It gave Evans a way to be all the pianists he could be at once–combining densely chordal, harmonically oblique parts with surprising, rhythmic punctuation and darting, exploratory runs.