Bill Evans: Live At Ronnie Scott's brings to mind the phrase "on the shoulders of giants." Evans's stature in jazz history is unassailable, his influence having touched much of the music's subsequent trajectories, while also establishing a new, discernable branch of the jazz tree traceable to the present-day. A two-disc package, Bill Evans: Live at Ronnie Scott's captures the relatively brief trio configuration of Eddie Gomez and Jack DeJohnette in the natural setting of a live club performance.
A follow-up to Resonance Records' previous releases of long-lost Evans's music, the album provides further insight into his musical evolution, documenting a period during which his already refined methods were further honed. The flexible but distinctive voices of Gomez and DeJohnette integrated well with Evans's groundbreaking trio conception emphasizing fluid interactions between players and the subtle over the brash.
Over the 20 tracks of this long-lost album, Evans's sophisticated use of chromaticism and rhythmic shifts, Gomez's communicative bass, and DeJohnette's rippling percussion come together like an intimate conversation between friends of many years. The topics and tales seem to have been already told and returned to many times, just as the album's tunes represent many signature Evans compositions and oft-visited standards. Yet, just like those conversations, the playing never stales due to nuances and embellishments which make the simple joy of experiencing the close contact and shared emotion that much stronger. One of Evans's greatest skills was to invite audiences to honestly participate in his exploration of the hidden facets and fine distinctions of human emotion, an achievement which is reflected in this live recording.
These traits are certainly present on Evan's studio recordings, but there has always been something distinct and special about live jazz performance. Live at Ronnie Scott's offers both aficionados and new listeners a proximation of that experiencethe clanking plates, clinking glasses, and dropped spoons in some respects adornments. Of course, with any long-lost live recording there is always the question of sound quality. Although it is marred by a few muddy moments during group exchange, and it is not quite as clear as some other found material, the sound quality of this recording is more than acceptable. The richness of Evans's light touch, Gomez's astute bass, and DeJohnette's delicate brush work and understated cymbals come through with the necessary detail to immerse oneself in the simulacrum of actually sitting in the live concert room.
Collectors in particular will be pleased by the thoughtful interviews, essays, and carefully curated photos that treat the release as both a musical experience and a historical object of value.
Particularly appealing because it offers a window into a rarely heard period of Evans's career, Bill Evans: Live at Ronnie Scott's is a worthwhile listen for anyone interested in the trajectory of the Evans's trio, as well as anyone drawn to music made by three giants of the art form.
Sleepin' Bee; You're Gonna Hear From Me (Version 1); Yesterdays; Turn Out the Stars; My Man's Gone Now;
(Version 1); Spring is Here; Embraceable You; For Heaven’s Sake; Someday My Prince Will Come; Quiet Now;
Midnight; Stella by Starlight; Alfie; You're Gonna Hear From Me (Version 2); Very Early; Emily (Version 2);
Waltz for Debby;
Autumn Leaves; Nardis.
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