Bill Evans: The Oslo Concerts
Concert/Festival Reviewer since 2005Ernest Barteldes is a freelance writer and an ESL teacher.
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The Oslo Concerts
On this DVD, we see two distinctive phases of pianist Bill Evans' career - the first a 1966 concert played at the Oslo Munch Museum in 1966 with bassist Eddie Gomez and drummer Alex Riel, filmed in black and white, followed by his last filmed concert at the Molde Jazz Festival in 1980 with bassist Marc Johnson and drummer Joe La Barbera.
The first thing that comes to mind watching these two concerts is the difference in the approach. On the 1966 gig, the tunes are much shorter and are played in a more traditional format. Gomez briefly steals the spotlight from the bandleader on "Nardis , playing a highly accomplished solo, which generates great applause from the incredibly polite audience. The same tune, 14 years later, begins as a solo piece - the other musicians only join him several minutes into it.
Another aspect you notice is the fine camera work from the Norwegian Broadcasting Company. On the 1966 concert, they use split-screen techniques, showing both hands and a more distant shot of the stage. On the 1980 show, they blend the images during assorted solos and take full advantage of the stage lighting.
The disc also features a quick interview with Evans in which he talks about his experience with Miles Davis (the Plaza Concert record had just been released at the time), the jazz scene and about the reason for always playing with a trio. "I have more control of the music, he says. He also tells us that his 1980 trio is "probably the best one I've ever had.
Unfortunately, the package contains no liner notes, so all the information we have is what is contained at the back of the sleeve and on the DVD itself; it would have been instructive if there had been an accompanying booklet and there are no songwriter or director credits either.
Tracks: Very Early; Stella By Starlight; If You Could See Me Now; Autumn Leaves; Time Remembered; Nardis; Five; Person I Knew; Days of Wine and Roses; Your Story; Nardis; Five.
Personnel: Bill Evans: piano; Eddie Gomez, Marc Johnson: bass; Alex Riel, Joe La Barbera: drums.
Production Notes: 70 minutes.