Explorations (Riverside, 1961) is one of two landmark studio recordings from the Bill Evans trio that, through chordal voicings, a classically-based style and egalitarian instrumental interplay, moved the jazz piano trio toward impressionism and away from a rhythmic approach. It still sounds amazingly contemporary and the task that tenor saxophonist Jed Levy has set for himself in his explorations of a piece of the Evans digest using his tenor trio is a daunting one. Levy succeeds remarkably well through his own impressionistic gentle touch, Francois Moutin's up-in-the-mix yet perceptively sensitive bass and the drumming of Evans grad Eliot Zigmund.
While a non-traditional bop-ish treatment of the classic "Blue in Green" starts things off and a swinging interpretation of the standard "I'm Getting Sentimental Over You" closes things out, this trio thrives when it is painting with broader sonic brush strokes. This is witnessed on a touching depiction of "Laurie" and a melodiously moving "Re: Person I Knew." Moutin and Levy are a superb pairing on these tunes and remain true to this music with neither overpowering nor assertive one-upmanship. They blend harmoniously, as in the wonderfully open "Interplay" that serves as an unfettered forum for improvisation and opportune time for Levy to switch to flute. Likewise, the arco bass/tenor doubling that opens "Twelve Tone Tune" captures that beautiful dreamy quality that helped define the Evans trio. These qualities are also apparent on "Very Early" and "Time Remembered," the latter's spaciousness benefiting from Levy's tenor and flute playing. "Jazz Samba," given a fairly fiery treatment courtesy of Zigmund and Moutin's rhythm, and "The Dolphin," portrayed in a traditional breezy manner that again has Moutin sharing center stage, round things out and are representative of Evans' Latin stylings. This is a unique depiction of Evans' songbook.
Blue And Green; Very Early; Jazz Samba; Time Remembered; The Dolphin; Laurie; Twelve Tone Tune; Interplay; Re: Person I Knew; I'm Getting Sentimental Over You.
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