After more than a decade as one of the pianist’s most sympathetic bassists, this was Eddie Gomez’s last recording with Evans, a trio set with drummer Eliot Zigmund recorded in 1977 and released after Evans’ death in 1980.
Evans never stopped searching for new ideas. He might be faulted for repeatedly looking for them in the same tunes, but this program is quite varied, including Johnny Mandel’s “Suicide is Painless” (the theme from M.A.S.H. ); Michel Legrand’s title track; Gary McFarland’s waltz “Gary’s Theme,” complementing Evans’ own “B Minor Waltz (For Ellaine),” composed for Evans’ wife; and “We Will Meet Again (For Harry),” Evans’ tribute to his brother.
In Evans’ hands, melodies and time signatures are often more whispered, more shadowed, than stated, as in the opening “B Minor Waltz (For Ellaine)” and the somber, reflective title track, which blossoms, after Gomez’ mid-song solo, like dogwoods on a mid-May morning. Evans boasted such a unique, unmistakable touch—emotional and beautiful and even soft, but never sweet. (Gomez is pretty amazing himself on “M.A.S.H.,” laying down the foundation rock solid yet pushing the music forward, too.)
Among this reissue’s bonus tracks, “Without a Song” is about as ebullient as you’ll ever hear this pianist, and “Freddie Freeloader,” the one track on Miles Davis’ landmark album Kind of Blue where Evans did not play, presents the rare sound of Evans on electric piano.
As a rule, Evans could pick up the program from an elementary school chorus festival and play it inventively and beautifully. This set is no exception.
Personnel: Bill Evans, acoustic and electric piano; Eddie Gomez, bass; Eliot Zigmund, drums.
Record Label: Warner Bros.