Jul 7, 2012
The recent release of Live at Art D'Lugoff's Top of the Gate by Resonance Records offers listeners a table at the front of the stage for a stellar performance by one of jazz's greatest trios. It's October 23, 1968 in Greenwich Village, and legendary pianist Bill Evans is joined by bassist Eddie Gomez and drummer Marty Morell for two top-notch sets, represented here in their entirety. Aired only once, on Columbia University radio station WKCR-FM, this concert hasn't been heard for more than forty years and has never been released in any form.
Once again producer Zev Feldman has found rare material that shows facets of a legendary performer that might not have been available previously. Earlier this year, Feldman helped Resonance release Echoes of Indiana Avenue, a landmark collection of previously unreleased recordings of guitar master Wes Montgomery.
The album has wonderful clarity, primarily because George Klabin, then a 22-year-old recording engineer, separately miked each performer and allowed for a high quality mix. Bassist Gomez in particular was “on” that night, and the sound quality of his solos stands out.
Listening to the CD put Evans on my mind, so here’s a podcast of recent material I’ve heard that celebrates Evans, including:
Bill Evans Trio – “’Round Midnight” from Live at Art D'Lugoff's Top of the Gate. One of three songs on the CD that appear in both the first and second set, Evans gives the Monk classic a lovely reading, particularly as he sets the theme through the introduction.
Allan Harris and Takana Miyamoto – “Waltz for Debby” from Convergence. Singer Harris and pianist Miyamoto revisit the Tony Bennett/Bill Evans collaborations of the early 1970’s with an album that gives them a chance to pay tribute, but also show their own talents. Harris has a warm, mellow baritone, and Ms. Miyamoto supports and caresses his voice with her playing. Well worth a listen.
John Abercrombie Quartet – “Interplay” from Within a Song. The CD won’t be out in the US until the end of July on ECM, and I already have a podcast in the can featuring a conversation with the great guitarist. He talks a length in that interview of Bill Evans’ strength as a composer, so I thought it would be nice to include this tune, which has Joe Lovano (sax), Drew Gress (bass) and Joey Baron (drums) joining Abercrombie.
John Abercrombie – “Turn Out the Stars” from Structures. Speaking of Abercrombie, he recorded a trio album with Evans’ bassist Eddie Gomez and drummer Gene Jackson in 2006 for Chesky Records. This Evans’ tune was one of many Abercrombie woodshedded on for years, as guitarist Jim Hall, one of his musical idols, recorded a memorable version of the tune with Evans on their first duo record, Undercurrent.
Bill Evans Trio– Title track from Polka Dots and Moonbeams. June 5 was the 50th anniversary of the recording of this seminal Evans trio album. The group at that time was Evans (piano) Chuck Israels (bass) and Paul Motian (drums). They cut five of the album tracks that day in New York, a typical “day at the office” for Evans in 1962, as he recorded eighteen different sessions that year, including albums with Benny Golson, Herbie Mann, Jim Hall, and the Tadd Dameron Orchestra.