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The SESJUN Radio Shows

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Album Review

Bill Evans was frequently recorded for radio broadcast during his various European tours, many of which ended up as bootlegs with incorrect song and personnel listings, poor audio, and incomplete tracks. Fortunately, everything is done right in this two-CD set, which is compiled from three separate performances between 1973 and 1979. The first five tracks are from a duo tour with the phenomenal bassist Eddie Gomez, who spent over 11 years with the pianist. The absence of a drummer (Marty Morell was evidently not a part of this tour, though he played with Evans into 1974) gives Evans a more intimate sound; Evans seemed to achieve an incredible E.S.P. playing with the talented Gomez. Following a buoyant opener, "Up with the Lark," the duo's moving setting of Evans' bittersweet, lyrical "Time Remembered" is a reminder of the pianist's total mastery of ballads, as is his equally touching "The Two Lonely People." There are plenty of fireworks in the pianist's "T.T.T. (Twelve Tone Tune)" as the two musicians use his dissonant theme as a jumping-off point for brilliant improvisations. The 1975 set adds drummer Eliot Zigmund, who spent four years with Evans. In these trio selections, the pianist introduces each theme alone, though it is a diverse five-song set. Evans' upbeat "Sugar Plum" showcases the leader extensively, with the rhythm section coming in several minutes later. There were several modern pop songs that drew the pianist's attention, including Bobbie Gentry's "Mornin' Glory" (which incorrectly lists Glen Campbell as co-writer), which Evans transformed into a potent jazz ballad. Evans' "T.T.T.T. (Twelve Tone Tune Two)" is even more demanding than its predecessor, with the trio navigating its pitfalls with ease in a wild, breezy performance. The 1979 tracks will be of great interest to Evans' fans. The new trio, with the brilliant young bassist Marc Johnson and superb, subtle drummer Joe LaBarbera, achieved a level of playing close to the pianist's group with Scott La Faro and Paul Motian. The trio selections cover familiar territory but find the band at its peak, highlighted by the lightly swinging take of Tadd Dameron's "If You Could See Me Now" and Evans' always introspective exploration of Miles Davis' "Nardis," the latter tune individually showcasing all three musicians. Harmonica virtuoso Toots Thielemans, who appeared on Evans' Affinity album, is a special guest on the last five songs, adding a sizzling solo to "Blue in Green" and getting to play his signature song "Bluesette" with the trio as well. The temporary quartet also nicely gels with a romp through Evans' longtime set closer "Five." The Sesjun Radio Shows is an essential collection for fans of Bill Evans.


Born: 16 August 1929 in Plainfield, NJ

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s

With the passage of time, Bill Evans has become an entire school unto himself for pianists and a singular mood unto himself for listeners. There is no more influential jazz-oriented pianist -- only McCoy Tyner exerts nearly as much pull among younger players and journeymen -- and Evans has left his mark on such noted players as Herbie Hancock, Keith Jarrett, Chick Corea, and Brad Mehldau. Borrowing heavily from the impressionism of Debussy and Ravel, Evans brought a new, introverted, relaxed, lyrical,...
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