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Bill Evans Everybody Digs Bill Evans Review

Released 2007.  

BBC Review

This 1957 classic is a rewarding way of aquainting, or re-aquainting, yourself with a...

Charles De Ledesma 2007

Orrin Keepnews, the founder of one of the great 1950s labels, Riverside Records, and now in his eighties, has set about reissuing a number of classics from that period, including this trio masterpiece Everybody Digs Bill Evans. Here the young pianist – fresh from playing with the Miles Davis Sextet– magically embellishes a variety of cover versions ranging from racy, percussive tunes to lyrical ballads.

Evans has a unique position in the jazz cannon. A great ‘white’ player, his crisp, clean, dashing style would influence the likes of Herbie Hancock, Keith Jarrett and Chick Corea. Evans had learnt his trade listening to contrasting players, chiefly the moody, introspective Thelonius Monk and the percussive extrovert Bud Powell. The great strength of Everybody Digs Bill Evans though, lies both in the player’s deft handling of jazz standards and the soft, exploratory lyricism of his own material. For example, on "Peace Piece" Evans delicately rolls out a flutter of notes to slowly unfold a haunting, but almost hidden, melody.

The set’s opener, "Minority" provides a cracking start, illustrating how perfectly Evans harmonised with his co-players, Sam Jones on bass and Philly Joe Jones on drums. The tune, penned by Gigi Gryce, is gutsy and jaunty with a memorable refrain. And again, on a Sonny Rollins track, "Oleo", Evans’ quick pace unleashes a spikey flurry of notes coalescing around a jittey, intense melody.

Piano-led jazz trio CDs can be a little monotonous but this 1957 classic is a rewarding way of aquainting, or re-aquainting, yourself with a great player at an early stage of a roller-coaster career, which was often plagued by drug addiction.

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