No matter what phase in the evolution of Bill Evans this album might fall, Some Other Time subtitled The Lost Session From The Black Forest is a ravishing double album of music. Look at the dates and you will find dates that emerge as being five days after the 1968 Montreux Jazz Festival and a mature flowering of his artistry in these June 20 concerts from Germany, recorded by the legendary Hans Georg Brunner-Schwer and Joachim-Ernst Berendt. As some of Evans’ (same) works crop up in different contexts you hear how no performance is the same; Bill Evens restlessly challenged his core repertoire. After all who knew there was so much more Evans to rediscover, or what can of delectable worms would be opened by lifting the lid of this beautifully packaged double CD? Masterful? How else would you describe these performances of one of the greatest pianists of the age of the recording?
The extent to which these performances were confections created by a trio – still being sussed out by Evans – comprising bassist Eddie Gomez who stayed on with Evans past the tenure of Elliot Zigmund, and drummer Jack DeJohnette, who might not have lasted that long, they are masterpieces of character and elegance. They are consistent and more wilful, and the two sets – full of quiet majesty – are among Bill Evans’ finest readings of standards. Some works are new in his repertoire, but all are a must-hear from start to finish and from disc one to disc two. Evans doesn’t waste energy – he never did – on trying to find novel approaches; he just lets the music speck, exercising restraint where other pianists of almost every generation take showy liberties. I have never heard ‘My Funny Valentine’ rendered with such persuasive grace, nor the contrasting near-and-far-bells toll distantly and more charmingly in ‘Very Early’.
But Evans’ playing is full-blooded, and when the music asks for the impression of a sudden gust of wind, as in ‘I’ll Remember April.’ That is what the pianist conjures up. ‘On Green Dolphin Street’ on disc two is a delight, with the right hand giving a ravishing display of pianissimo pyrotechnics; ‘Lover Man’ is equally masterly. Bill Evans probably never expected us to be able to hear him like this, the mercurial brilliance and instinctive musicianship mixed in with the genius of his foundlings: Eddie Gomez and Jack DeJohnette, who have both grown into great instrumentalists in their own right today. Listening to this magical record is like focusing so closely on a great painting that you pick out every brush stroke but without the imprecision that comes with age. You need to step back then, to appreciate the whole canvas.
And as is usual with these gorgeous masterpieces that Resonance – George Klabin and Zev Feldman – continue to produce, there is so much to see and so much to hear you get the feeling that you are choking with gold.
Track List: Disc One: You Go To My Head; Very Early; What Kind Of Fool Am I? I’ll Remember April; My Funny Valentine; Baubles, Bangles And Beads; Turn Out The Stars; It Could Happen To You; In A Sentimental Mood; These Foolish Things; Some Other Time. Disc Two: You’re Gonna Hear From Me; Walkin’ Up; Baubles, Bangles And Beads; It’s Alright With Me (incomplete); What Kind Of Fool Am I? How About You? On Green Dolphin Street; Wonder Why; Lover Man (Oh Where Can You Be?); You’re Gonna Hear From Me (alternate take).
Personnel: Bill Evans: piano; Eddie Gomez: bass; Jack DeJohnette: drums.
Release date: April 2016
Running time: Disc One – 54:37 Disc Two: 39:32
Buy album on: amazon