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Portrait In Jazz (Keepnews Collection)

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Album Review

This 1959 studio session features Bill Evans with bassist Scott LaFaro and drummer Paul Motian, his earliest important trio and first working group to be recorded. Even at this early stage Evans and his bandmates display a substantial degree of interplay, getting well away from the tradition of the bass and drums playing a totally subservient role to the piano. The pianist's updated arrangements of the seven standards take them into new territory, highlighted by "Autumn Leaves," "Someday My Prince Will Come," and "Spring Is Here." The date is rounded out by two originals, the haunting modal work "Blue in Green" made famous on Miles Davis' Kind of Blue (and wrongly credited to Davis as its composer, as Evans insisted upon credit when the original LP of this session was first issued) and the playful, upbeat "Peri's Scope." Previously reissued as a part of Fantasy's Original Jazz Classics series, this Keepnews Collection expanded reissue includes previously unavailable alternate takes of "Come Rain or Come Shine" and "Blue in Green" that were omitted from the 12-CD The Complete Riverside Recordings boxed set, along with expanded liner notes by Riverside founder/producer Orrin Keepnews.

Customer Reviews

Aptly Titled and Timeless

This studio recording by the famous Bill Evans trio preceded the live and immortal "Live at the Village Vanguard" recordings, and consists of the same rhythm section with Scott LaFaro on bass, and Paul Motian (mo-chen) on drums. The highly influential Bill Evans had a prolific career as a solo and trio jazz pianist, after being put on the map as it were by playing on Miles Davis' "Kind Of Blue" record from 1959, considered to be the best-selling jazz record of all time. Many critics cited Evans' performance on "Kind Of Blue" to be a pivotal factor in what came to be known as the "modal" movement in jazz, which was a new direction from the hard bebop so prevalent in the 1950's up to that time. The "Keepnews Collection" designates a 24-bit remastering of the original recording by the legendary jazz writer and producer Orrin Keepnews, launched in 2007. Not to get too scientific here, but I believe he used a 24-bit transfer technique for a richer sound vs. lower bit sampling rates. (The original recording label was Riverside which was later purchased by Fantasy, ironically in light of Fantasy's financial boon from labeling Creedence Clearwater Revival.) As well as incomparable sound engineering, Keepnews includes additional historical perspective and trust me, he is the guy who knows where the bodies are when it comes to bebop and post-bop jazz history. This Bill Evans recording, "Waltz For Debby" and "Live at the Village Vanguard" are must-includes for even a basic jazz collection and a great place to start in discovering the beauty that is Bill Evans at the piano.

Portrait in Jazz (Keepnews Collection)

I'm in agreement with the fine reviews already posted, so will only add a couple of things. I discovered this LP many years ago (1970 or so) and it remains a favorite, as are most of Evans' records; in fact I still have the original release on vinyl. Along with the harmonic depth and unique voicings that are always present in Evans' music, there is also a wonderful use of space and understatement not usually associated with Evans' playing (and indeed less obvious later on, but always inherent). There is a feeling of discovery taking place, like the trio's approach is emerging as you listen, in the moment. Certainly it's already distinctive by this point, but still exanding and this is an exciting example of the innovative trio playing (interplaying) early on. Well, I could go on at length but what I did want to add concerns the various versions of 'Blue in Green'. I have been familiar only with the original LP for so long, but it's always great to hear alternate takes, etc. Here there are three takes of 'Blue in Green' and a brief listen revealed that take #3 is the one released on the LP. I didn't see this noted in the song info, but I haven't seen a hard copy of the CD with, I hope, full info in the text. A small detail I suppose but worth mentioning perhaps. It is a beautiful version and still my favorite of the three. Anyway, it's wonderful to find this re-released body of work, along with so many of Evans' other great recordings. Bravo!
Stephen D. Anderson

There is a skip on the first track.

Too bad, it's a great record, but I tunes needs to step it up with the quality control.


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, and Brad Mehldau. Borrowing heavily from the impressionism of Debussy and Ravel, Evans brought a new, introverted, relaxed, lyrical,...
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