Bill Evans – Another Time – The Hilversum Concert
(Resonance Records HLP-9031. LP review by Andrew Cartmel)
Resonance Records just keeps on exhuming treasures from the history of jazz, and the history of Bill Evans in particular. A year ago saw their release of Some Other Time — The Lost Session from the Black Forest (Resonance HLP-9019 – reviewed here). This was a crucial recording since it represented the only studio album by the great Evans trio comprising Jack DeJohnette on drums and Eddie Gomez on bass. It was made five days after their Grammy-winning live recording at the Montreux Jazz Festival (15 June 1968). The Black Forest record is now an expensive and sought after collector’s item on vinyl, and the new release looks to be just as essential — and just as enjoyable. Another Time – The Hilversum Concert is a second live set, recapturing an appearance in Holland exactly a week after the classic Montreux gig.
Well, I say “live set”… The music was taped in a radio station studio (VARA Studio 8 at Netherlands Radio Union in Hilversum) with excellent and lucid acoustics in front of a small, attentive and select audience, so it really represents the best aspects of both a live and a studio recording. This makes it a fascinating halfway point between the Montreux and Black Forest albums. And it’s a pleasure to hear more from the masterful DeJohnette on drums — he would shortly leave the trio to join Miles Davis, while bassist Eddie Gomez would stay with Evans for over a decade. But that’s not the only standout virtue of this set. It also has a particularly strong selection of tunes, only three of which overlap with the Black Forest recording (You’re Gonna Hear from Me, Very Early and Turn Out the Stars) and two with Montreux (Embraceable You and Nardis). A special treat is the Bacharach-David Alfie which would become a regular feature for Evans and is brimming with brio and inventive wit here. DeJohnette provides almost subliminal cymbal and brush work and Gomez sits out or plays sparingly, giving the leader plenty of breathing space to spill brightly chiming notes and sequences. Evans tugs at the loose threads of the melody — drawing it into new and charming patterns rather than pulling it apart.
In Embraceable You, Eddie Gomez comes into the spotlight with an introduction which dismantles the tune to the point of abstraction before Evans comes rolling in, with DeJohnette giving light accents on the brushes and the three of them uniting to present a rollicking, swinging and recognizable take on this standard without sacrificing any of Gomez’s modernism. You’re Gonna Hear from Me is both contemplative and merry, with Evans cannily approaching the melody from different angles and Eddie Gomez’s upright bass providing the sinews of the piece.
But the real treasure is Johnny Mandel’s Emily, another tune set to become a favourite, which brings out the most gentle and sensitively explorative approach from Bill Evans, with Gomez’s bass dexterously propulsive and DeJohnette’s drumming crisply minimal, providing an attractively light and airy cage for Bill Evans’s playing — a rare bird of exceedingly beautiful plumage. The trio loops through Mandel’s appealing and seductive tune, finishing up with such economy we’re left longing for more.
One of the surprises of this album is the delicacy and judicious diffidence with which DeJohnette plays throughout. There’s a sense of strength and inventiveness to spare, all held in reserve. Until Nardis, that is, when the power, density and complexity of his drumming is given a showcase. The intensity of his performance on this Miles Davis number has a flavour of the prophetic, given that Davis would come into Ronnie Scott’s in a few weeks’ time, hear DeJohnette, and make him an offer he couldn’t refuse.
This limited LP release is on high quality, low noise 180gram vinyl, mastered by Bernie Grundman and it comes in an exceedingly handsome package —a gatefold sleeve with a large eight page booklet featuring some attractive photographs and informative essays including one by the excellent jazz blogger Marc Myers. The album’s producer Zev Feldman suggests that this is “one of the best-sounding of all Bill Evans’s live albums.” Personally, my money’s still on Waltz for Debby but let’s not quibble. This is a terrific record.
The vinyl will go on sale on April 22nd (Record Store Day). The CD will follow on September 1st. More information HERE