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Riverside Profiles: Bill Evans

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Album Review

The Bill Evans volume in the Riverside Profiles series contains the standard ten selections; they are taken from his six years with the label from 1956-1962. These volumes primarily serve as budget-priced introductions to any given artist, and this one is no exception. There are four tunes here taken from the most famous Bill Evans Trio that included bassist Scott LaFaro and drummer Paul Motian — "Blue in Green" (1959), "Waltz for Debby," "My Man's Gone Now," and "Israel" (all from 1961). There are also three tunes taken from the band with bassist Chuck Israels (who replaced LaFaro after he was killed in a car accident); they are "Isn't It Romantic" with drummer Larry Bunker (1963) and "How My Heart Sings" and "Re: Person I Knew," both with Motian from 1962. The final three tunes include a solo reading of "Peace Piece" from the Everybody Digs Bill Evans set in 1958; the title cut from the beautifully understated album with Freddie Hubbard, Jim Hall, Percy Heath, and Philly Joe Jones from 1962; and "Speak Low" from Evans' debut album, New Jazz Conceptions with Motian and Teddy Kotick recorded in 1956. This is a fine introduction to Evans' early compositions and his arranging style that would come to fruition in the Miles Davis Quintet with John Coltrane and Cannonball Adderley on the Kind of Blue sessions for Columbia. The lyric genius of Evans seemed fully in place from the very beginning, and simply grew from there. Evans fans will find nothing here they don't already have. These Riverside Profiles editions also come with a second disc sampler from the rest of the volumes in the series, including tracks by Thelonious Monk, Charlie Byrd, Art Blakey, Chet Baker, Adderley, Bobby Timmons, and Wes Montgomery. The sound is warm and righteous and the price is certainly right for those seeking a fine smattering of material from one of the greatest piano stylists in jazz.


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, lyrical,...
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