Most piano-led jazz trios consist of a bassist and drummer providing rhythmic backing for the leader. With the various trios fronted by Bill Evans, a three way musical conversation occurred among equals. Recorded in '67 and initially issued as a two-LP set in '82, and now reissued on a single CD of 71 minutes, California Here I Come
is an example of that dialogue. Not nearly as influential as his groundbreaking early '60s trio with Scott LaFaro and Paul Motian, this group with bassist Eddie Gomez and drummer Philly Joe Jones is nonetheless illustrative of the flowing grace of one of the most influential pianists in jazz.
A normally quiet person, Evans communicated most effectively through the piano. He sings with his fingers as he beckons the melodies from "Polka Dots and Moonbeams" and renders a light as a feather version of "Alfie," one of the earliest piano versions of that song (the original being a big pop hit for Dionne Warwick from the '66 movie). Often criticized for not swinging enough, hard bop drummer Jones pushes the pianist to play more percussively on the trio's frisky take of "In a Sentimental Mood" and "On Green Dolphin Street." One of the best at playing jazz waltzes, Evans joins bassist Gomez to convey a sense of joy on the pianist's "G Waltz."
All the tunes on California Here I Come are short, but the musicians squeeze as much wondrous music as they can into four and five-minute time spans. With its lyricism and gentle power, this record illustrates why Evans still continues to casts a musical spell, 36 years after this performance and 24 years after his untimely death.