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Bill Evans: Getting Sentimental (2004)

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Bill Evans: Getting Sentimental No stars How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

Getting Sentimental is a bootleg tape released with the permission of the Evans estate. Like the recordings of The Secret Sessions box, it was recorded without Evans' knowledge by a fan who was a regular customer of the Village Vanguard, in this particular case on January 15, 1978. Bassist Eddie Gomez had recently left Evans after twelve years of service, and this was the tryout for Michael Moore. Based upon his performance this night, Evans hired him. Drummer Philly Joe Jones had joined the Evans trio shortly before.

Like most bootlegs, the sonic fidelity is not up to standard. The drums are crisp and clear but too loud, and the piano is muffled. (The bass is just right.) Recognizing these tapes for what they are, this 73 minute album is nevertheless worthwhile as a study of Evans' playing at that time. Evans changed his style in his last years, turning his back on his light touch and the dry, spare choice of notes for which he became famous. Here, his left hand is heavy on most songs, and his use of runs up and down the keyboard make him sound like a different player from the one who recorded with Scott LaFaro. This music is not soft and romantic, but by no means had Evans become another Errol Garner.

The strength of the session was the choice of songs. The two best renditions are "Gary's Theme" and "Re: Person I Knew," both quiet and most like the Evans of old. "The Peacocks" and "When I Fall in Love" are also mellow and enjoyable. "I Should Care" swings, with lots of chords. "Emily," Johnny Mandel's theme from the movie The Americanization of Emily, is pleasant but busy, not soft and lovely as you would expect. "The Theme From M*A*S*H" is bright and a bit hurried.

Evans' heavy left hand is annoying on a number of selections, including "But Beautiful," "I Love You" and "How My Heart Sings" (which features a nice bass solo from Moore). Surprisingly, the title track "I'm Getting Sentimental Over You" is without distinction, as is "Quiet Now."

Moore left the trio after six months because of his disappointment with the way Evans was playing. The liner notes mention Evans' tendency to play songs too fast and "robotic." This trait can be heard here on a partricularly disappointing "Turn Out the Stars" (played in a carefree style) and "In Your Own Sweet Way."

I suspect that if this music were the product of a young player, for example Brad Mehldau, it would receive accolades from the jazz world. It is very pleasant as background music. However, since this is Bill Evans we're talking about, this set will disappoint most fans. Fantasy is to be commended for releasing Getting Sentimental as an example of what Evans was doing in early 1978, but the label has many other Bill Evans offerings which are superior.

Track Listing: 1. I Should Care 2. How My Heart Sings 3. Gary's Theme 4. I'm Getting Sentimental Over You 5. Quiet Now 6. Re: Person I Knew 7. The Peacocks 8. Emily 9. Theme from M*A*S*H 10. Turn Out the Stars 11. When I Fall in Love 12. In Your Own Sweet Way 13. But Beautiful 14. I Love You

Personnel: Bill Evans (piano), Michael Moore (bass), Philly Joe Jones (drums).

Record Label: Fantasy Jazz

Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


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