Bill Evans: Dig It!

In a 180g vinyl compilation, familiar early recordings by the pianist are given new interest by the juxtaposition of solo and trio pieces

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This high-definition 180g LP is a carefully assembled anthology of Evans’ earliest studio sessions issued under his own name. His 1957 debut as leader, New Jazz Conceptions, combined trio and solo pieces. In 1972 Evans said “I still think that it was a good record at the time. . . I still listen to it without any misgivings.”

In 1958 he issued his second LP under his own name – Everybody Digs Bill Evans. In his Downbeat review, Richard B. Hedlock asserted that Evans “is an authoritative pianist with a superb sense of melodic and harmonic invention. His kind of lyrical rummaging about, which so often ends in blind alleys with lesser pianists, is brought off by [his] remarkable capacity for working out large melodic structures that hang together as though they had been pre-sketched on paper.”

Portrait In Jazz (Evans’ third album as leader), featuring bassist Scott LaFaro, was extended and recreated in their Village Vanguard June 1961 recordings – shortly before LaFaro’s death in a car accident, aged 25. Evans was so traumatised that he could not immediately form a new trio.

Most – if not all – of these studio performances will be familiar to Evans followers, but the juxtaposition of solo pieces with trio selections featuring bassists Sam Jones, Teddy Kotick and the amazingly gifted LaFaro, plus drummers Paul Motian and Philly Joe Jones, make this a record to treasure.

Discography
I Love You; Easy Living; Displacement; Waltz For Debby; Autumn Leaves; Spring Is Here (23.00) – Someday My Prince Will Come; Tenderly; What Is There To Say? Oleo; Witchcraft (22.00)
Evans (p) on all tracks with collective personnel: Teddy Kotick, Sam Jones, Scott LaFaro (b); Paul Motian, Philly Joe Jones (d). New York, 27 September 1956 to 28 December 1959.
Jazz Wax JWR4610