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Bill Evans Plays for Lovers

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Album Review

Concord counters 2005's Bill Evans for Lovers on Verve with this ballad collection, Bill Evans Plays for Lovers, from the pianist's late 1950s and early 1960s Riverside catalog. While there isn't anything here especially for devoted fans, who more than likely have all of this material a couple of times over, it's a great introduction to Evans for the novice. These nine cuts offer a fine retrospective of the pianist's trademark ballad style. Six tracks feature Evans in his classic trio with Scott LaFaro and Paul Motian, and the rest showcase him in the company of bassists like Chuck Israels, Sam Jones, and Teddy Kotick, while Philly Joe Jones makes an appearance on the closer, "Young and Foolish." It's in the music made with LaFaro, though, that Evans reveals himself deeply. His then-controversial classicism — which brought the shades and chord voicings of everyone from Debussy and Ravel to Erik Satie and Darius Milhaud to the jazz idiom — are still revelatory in what they bring to the gentle, swinging introspection of tunes like "Haunted Heart," "Spring Is Here," "Blue in Green," and "I Wish I Knew." For the price, this set can't really be beat. And for those seasoned listeners who are looking for a prime ballad compilation, this one fits the bill nicely.


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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