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Conversations with Myself

Bill Evans

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Album Review

Often stirring controversy for no key or good reason, Conversations with Myself has Bill Evans utilizing the sound-on-sound technique of reel-to-reel tape recording available in the 1960s to play simultaneous twin pianos. It's an interesting combination of counterpointed lines and chords that Evans employs, with differing tempos and shadings that complement rather than contrast. Additionally, the usage of angular dialect à la Thelonious Monk and the witty discourse he can conjure with his own styles thicken and broaden the horizons of the usually spare harmonic inventions the pianist expresses on his own. With the overdubbing, Evans achieves true interplay and counterpoint on his own, starting with the rich harmonies of Monk's "'Round Midnight," where he adds alternate lines in a slightly ramped-up midtempo take. "Blue Monk" has Evans sounding like a guitarist in his single-note and chordal discourse, perhaps influenced by Wes Montgomery, while the CD bonus track "Bemsha Swing" sports the ineffable and unexpected twists and turns that identify the author. Away from Monk, the spacious "Spartacus Love Theme" is rendered beautifully in spite of the extra tracking, "Stella by Starlight" uses a more unified approach between the two piano tracks, and is a chamber type reading, while "Hey There" employs off-minor options that are not standardized by any means. The stealth and deliberate shadings of the lone Evans original, "N.Y.C.'s No Lark," do contrast with the energetic high-octave chords on "How About You?" in a music that is certainly busy for Evans. His bonus take of Truman Capote's "A Sleepin' Bee" is also more active than fans of Evans are used to, but within a slower pace, as combined techniques are simmered with an Asian flavoring. Conversations with Myself is certainly one of the more unusual items in the discography of an artist whose consistency is as evident as any in modern jazz, and nothing should dissuade you from purchasing this one of a kind album that in some ways set a technological standard for popular music — and jazz — to come. ~ Michael G. Nastos, Rovi

Customer Reviews

Bill Evans Own Interplay

In an era of digital recording, this album still wows the careful listener. The album is made up of three different piano tracks - all of them Evans. This is no small feat considering over-dubbing was still in its infancy. The interplay is near perfect. The meshing between all parts means Evans had to anticipate melodic lines from his earlier recordings and essentially play the "call" before the "response." The Monk tunes are perfect examples. "Blue Monk" showcases Evan's ability to meander outside a typical blues progression and "'Round Midnight" is pure melody. Recorded in 1962 - a year after the death of his legendary sideman, bassist Scott LaFaro - this Grammy Award winning album may have been a much needed creative outlet for Evans and is definitely worth a close listening.

Open your head

Best solo jazz album ever? The case can be made.

Biography

Born: August 16, 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, Brad Mehldau. Borrowing heavily from the impressionism of Debussy and Ravel, Evans brought a new, introverted, relaxed,...
Full Bio

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