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Bill Evans: Behind The Dikes – The 1969 Netherlands Recordings

Dan McClenaghan By

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Bill Evans: Behind The Dikes – The 1969 Netherlands Recordings
Zev Feldman, co-president of Resonance Records, seems to have made it his life's mission to present every unreleased note that pianist Bill Evans ever recorded. Live At Art D'Lugoff's Top Of The Gate (2012), Some Other Time (2016), Another Time: The Hilversum Concert (2017), Evans In England (2019) and Live At Ronnie Scott's (2020) represent the Bill Evans discography on the Resonance Records label, all produced by Feldman. And now 2021 finds Feldman teaming with the Elemental Music label, to release yet another long lost live recording by an Evans trio, Behind the Dikes—The 1969 Netherlands Recordings.

This is music that has long been available, in an underground sort of way, on bootleg recordings of sub-standard sound quality—something that is problematic in most music, unforgivable in regards to Bill Evans. That has changed with this official release. The sound is crisp and clean, showcasing the pristine and distinctive Evans touch, and the always remarkable interplay with this particular trio, with Evans joined by bassist Eddie Gomez and drummer Marty Morell.

Evans' best trio, with bassist Scott LaFaro and drummer Paul Motian—that produced the groundbreaking Sunday At the Village Vanguard (1961) and Waltz For Debby (1962), both on Riverside Records—was short-lived, due to La Faro's death in a car accident. The pianist's second best trio— though some would certainly argue this (and they'd be wrong)—is the Evans/Gomez/Morell group, the pianist's longest running trio, together seven years.

The two disc's worth of music come from a pair of performances in 1969 in the Netherlands. The group was in top form, trotting out a triple handful of tunes that were familiar mainstays in the the Evans repertoire—"Emily," "Stella By Starlight," "Waltz For Debby," "Autumn Leaves" and more. These are presented by three musicians deep in a comfort zone, navigating bright up-tempo tunes and slipping into introspective reveries and breathtakingly beautiful balladry. The two takes on pianist Denny Zeitlin's "Quiet Now" are as lovely as anything this trio ever recorded, and their rendition of "Someday My Prince Will Come" is as bright and propulsive as can be in a celebratory up-tempo groove, with Morell's joyous shuffling and Gomez' assertive headlong heartbeat.

Listing a top ten of recordings from the trios of Bill Evans is near impossible. There is much superior trio work, and ten is too few slots. So start with the early, previously-mentioned Sunday At the Village Vanguard and Waltz For Debby, and then it is wide open. But Behind the Dikes would certainly be a contender.

And before we wrap up, two "bonus tracks" should be mentioned: Disc 2 ends with a "Granadas" and "Pavane," adaptations originally arranged by Claus Ogerman for Bill Evans Trio With Symphony Orchestra (Verve, 1966). Here, Evans is backed by the 50 piece Metropole Orkest on these majestically cerebral performances of music from the classical world..

Track Listing

Disc 1: You’re Gonna Hear From Me; Emily; Stella by Starlight; Turn Out the Stars; Waltz for Debby; ‘Round Midnight; I Let a Song Go Out of My Heart; Alfie; Beautiful Love; My Funny Valentine; Spartacus’ Love Theme. Disc 2: One for Helen; Quiet Now; Someday My Prince Will Come; Very Early; A Sleepin’ Bee; Turn Out the Stars; Autumn Leaves; Quiet Now; Nardis; Granadas; Pavane.

Personnel

Bill Evans: piano; Eddie Gomez: bass; Marty Morell: drums.

Additional Instrumentation

With the Metropole Orkest directed by Dolf Van Der Linden (Disc 2: 11, 12).

Album information

Title: Behind The Dikes – The 1969 Netherlands Recordings | Year Released: 2021 | Record Label: Elemental Music

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