Tag Archives: Bill Evans

Know What I Mean? What Great Album!

Blogging – but about what?

I suppose every blogger knows this question: what should I write about on my blog?

Well, you could say with several thousand albums in my personal library and 30M tracks in my Qobuz streaming subscription, finding material shouldn’t really be a problem. And it actually isn’t too much of an issue.

The harder question is often: What do I write about right now?

I often get inspired by either recent releases, by reading the specialized press, or by something I just happened to play on my stereo recently.

However, tonight I was a bit clueless. I knew it was time for another blog post, but didn’t really feel inspired about anything in particular.

Then the radio on my car trip back from work came to my rescue, as they played a track from the album below. I immediately knew I had to write about it.

So here we go:

Cannonball Adderley

Julian “Cannonball” Adderley is probably one of the more underestimated saxophone players. He never go the reputation of a Coltrane, Bird, or even Sonny Rollins. That said, he’s done some amazing albums. Not only he played on Kind Of Blue (see my post on my 25 essential Jazz albums), but also on Something Else from 1958 which has the best version ever of Autumn Leaves on it. Not to mention many other great albums, with or without Miles Davis.

Know What I Mean – Cannonball Adderley With Bill Evans (Riverside 1961)

Adderley and Bill Evans already played together on the above-mentioned legendary album Kind Of Blue in 1959. Two years later, on the Riverside label this time, they work together again, without Miles Davis this time. You have Percy Heath on bass, and Connie Kay on drums.

And the mood is completely different to Kind Of Blue‘s intimacy, this is swinging Jazz that will make you smile immediately.

Cannonball Adderley with Bill Evans Know What I Mean Riverside

You start with the great Bill Evans standard Waltz For Debbie, a song I personally cannot get enough of. And this is probably one of the best versions out there, with Adderley really swinging like crazy.

Toy, a Clifford Jordan original, is another great uptempo track.

And then there’s the title track (which depending on which release you get, you may have several takes to compare), which starts as a beautiful ballad (Kind Of Blue‘s particular mood is popping up again), but soon turns back to softly swinging.

This is mainstream jazz (in the positive sense of the word) at its best.

My rating: 4 stars

You can find it here (Qobuz).

Bill Evans – You Must Believe In Spring

Bill Evans

I haven’t written any single post on Bill Evans yet (well with the exception of this not very serious one, and my 25 Essential Jazz albums).

Shame on me. Given how much I love this pianist, and the form of the Jazz Piano Trio that he essentially created (or at least brought it to a whole new level), this is a sin.

To be rectified right now.

Bill’s Three Trios

Bill Evans essentially had three trios over time. He started with the mythic combination of  Scott LaFaro and Paul Motian in the 1950s and early 60s, until Scott died tragically in a car accident. If you don’t have Live At The Village Vanguard or Waltz for Debbie, you have missed some outstanding recordings.

For many Bill Evans purists, there is no true Bill Evans after LaFaro’s death. Some may concede that his last trio with Marc Johnson and Joe LaBarbera did some outstanding recordings (and I’d agree, hence them being listed in my above mentioned 25 essential Jazz albums with Consecration.

However, the trio that Evans ended up playing the longest time, with Eddie Gomez and several different drummers, doesn’t get the same level of awareness.

Which is a pity as there are some true gems, and Gomez has a very particular sound to his bass, which suits Evans really well.

You Must Believe In Spring (Rhino/Warner 1977/1981)

Bill Evans You Must Believe In Spring Rhino Warner 1977

This is the last album that Evans played with Gomez before he left the trio. On drums we feature Eliot Zigmund.

Why do I love this album so much? Well, as mentioned above, Gomez has a really nice sound, and this being a decent studio recording it really comes across very well.

Furthermore there is the title song You Must Believe In Spring, written by the great Michel Legrand for the musical movie Les Demoiselles de Rochefort by the French Director Jacques Demy.

It is taken from one of the most cheesy scenes of the entire movie, the young sailor singing about his troubles trying to find his dream girl, also known as La Chanson de Maxence:

 

For comparison, here’s Bill Evans version:

 

For context, I usually hate musicals, and any kind of movie where people all over sudden start singing (sorry, Bollywood), but somehow this movie is different. Probably this is due to the fact that I saw it during my student days in an old Roman theatre in the middle of summer in an open air cinema with good friends.

The entire atmosphere was so nice that I cannot help myself but having positive memories with this movie, and therefore having a Jazz version of this song helps (Note that I had the album before I even saw the movie, and somehow my subconscious recognized the melody when I saw the film for the first time).

The rest of the album is nice mixture of late Bill Evans standards like the famous Theme From M.A.S.H but also some lesser know compositions. All are very enjoyable.

My rating: 4 stars

You can find it here (Qobuz)

Musicophile’s 25 Essential Jazz Albums – Part I

To be fair, I could never live with only 25 albums, I’d be totally bored at some point. There is too much great music out there to discover, that’s why I’m purchasing a lot of new music every month.

But if I had to choose my personal favorite 25 Jazz artists and list one of their albums (didn’t go for top 10 as this would have really been TOO narrow), I’d go for these. I wouldn’t call this a “must have” list, this is obviously completely subjective, as all of the rest of my blog. But you wouldn’t go wrong in checking them out and see if you like them. There are some obvious candidates in there that you’ll find in every TopXX list out there (I checked many, to make sure I don’t miss anything), some hopefully less obvious personal choices as well. They range from 1958 to 2013.

By the way, I’m cheating a bit, I’m talking about 25 albums, not CDs, so you’ll find a couple of multi-CD albums in there. In the age of the digital download, it doesn’t make any difference anyhow.

The ordering is completely random, I just numbered them so I don’t lose track. As said before, I try to limit to one album per artists, as you could easily build a list of top 25 albums with Keith Jarrett or Bill Evans on their own (maybe this will come in a future post).

This is part I, with no. 1-12, part II can be found here.

1. Keith Jarrett –  At The Blue Note (1995)

Keith Jarrett At The Blue Note The Complete Recordings ECM 1995

Well, obviously my selection had to have a Keith Jarrett album. As I wanted to choose only one per artist, I’m really under pressure here. With so many good Jarrett trio albums out there, which one do you choose? This choice is a bit arbitrary, and could change tomorrow, but I find myself to go back to this album very very often. However, it could have been easily as well Standards Live, Standards in Norway, Whisper Not, or Inside Out.

This album is mastered by the same Jan Erik Kongshaug, that also is responsible for Badgers and other Beings by Helge Lien (see my review here) and many other audiophile treasures.

 2. Miles Davis – Kind Of Blue (1959)

Milles Davis Kind of Blue 24 192 remaster Stereo Blue Note

Sorry, BIG no brainer alarm here. But this is just so freakingly good (thanks probably mainly to Bill Evans), that no matter how often you listen, you just get drawn into the atmosphere over and over again.

Plus, the recent 24/192 remaster (available in mono or stereo, I personally prefer the stereo version) sounds so great that you think you’re sitting in the studio with the guys.

3. Giovanni Mirabassi –  Architectures (1998)

Giovanni Mirabassi Architectures

I haven’t written about Mirabassi on my blog yet. What a shame. Will rectify that soon. In the meantime, this is trio jazz at its best (a guitar is added in some songs).

Mirabassi is still one of my favorite musicians, especially live, however, I still prefer his earlier albums to the more recent ones. Again, more to come.

4. Lee Morgan – The Sidewinder (1963)

Lee Morgan The Sidewinder 24/192 Blue Note

Already reviewed here. Another mega-seller, but nothing wrong with that.

5. Bill Evans – Consecration – The Final Recordings Part 2 (1980)

Bill Evans Consecration The Final Recordings Part 2 Live At The Keystone Korner September 1980 Fantasy Recordings

Bill Evans, another genius, and I haven’t even mentioned him on this blog yet (except for above in the Kind of Blue entry). What a sin. Again, plenty of outstanding albums to choose from. Which trio? LaFaro and Motian, Gomez and Morell, or Johnson and LaBarbera? Well, all are great, so hard to judge. I nevertheless have a particularly strong relationship to this album, as a 1 CD compilation of this last concert series of his was among my first even Bill Evans albums.

Is it really necessary to purchase this 8CD box? And to e.g. get 5 different versions of “Your Story” (the album has takes from different days, so quite some repeats in the playlist). And it get’s even worse, “The Last Waltz” is another 8CD box from the same setting. Well, maybe not universally. And there is obviously the great tragedy of knowing that shortly after these concerts this genius was finally killed by his drug habits.

But when you listen to these recordings, there is so much intimacy, so much creativity, so much melancholy, that you can’t help but be fully absorbed by the music.

Anyway, more to come on Bill Evans on my blog in the future.

6. Horace Silver: Song For My Father (1964)

Horace Silver Song For My Father 24 192 BLue Note

Already reviewed here.

7. Brad Mehldau: The Art Of The Trio Vol. 3 (1998)

Brad Mehldau Art of the Trio vol 3 Songs Warner Jazz 1998

I’m not a universal fan of Brad Mehldau, there are a lot of albums I just cannot stand at all (e.g. Largo), but this one is trio jazz at it’s best.

8. Nina Simone: Little Girl Blue or “Jazz As Played In An Exclusive Side Street Club” (1958)

Nina Simone Little Girl Blue 1958 Bethlehem

Her outstanding debut, with many amazing songs.

9. Triosence: Turning points (2013)

Triosence Turning Points 2013 Sony Classical

Already reviewed here

10. Herbie Hancock – Maiden Voyage (1965)

Herbie Hancock Maiden Voyage 24 192 Blue Note

My favorite Hancock album for the famous title track and Dolphin Dance.

11. John Coltrane – My Favorite Things (1961)

John Coltrane My Favorite Things

Well, obviously Coltrane had to be there. I hesitated quite a bit if I should nominate A Love Supreme or Giant Steps, but somehow this album personally touches me even more, both for the title track and one of my favorite versions of Summertime.

12. Shai Maestro – Shai Maestro Trio (2011)

Shai Maestro Trio Laborie Jazz 2012

Already reviewed here. 

As said before, Part II with nos. 13-25 can be found here.

Download Sources

Keith Jarrett At The Blue Note: here  (Qobuz) and here

Kind of Blue: Here (Qobuz) and here (HDTracks)

Architectures: unfortunately, hard to find as download. You can buy the CD here

Consecration: here (Qobuz)

Sidewinder: here (Qobuz)

Brad Mehldau Songs: here (Qobuz)

Song for My Father: here (Qobuz)

Nina Simone: here (Eclassical)

Triosence: here (Qobuz)

Maiden Voyage: here (Qobuz)

My Favorite Things: here (HDTracks)

Shai Maestro: here (Highresaudio)