281

Bill Evans & Don Elliott: Tenderly

Derek Taylor By

Sign in to view read count
Subtitled ‘An Informal Session’ this mid-1950s meeting between Evans and Elliott transpired in the latter’s home studio. Never intended for release, listeners expecting a tightly cropped and polished studio date are likely to be disappointed. Fortunately Fantasy producer Eric Miller opted to leave those extraneous noises that did not directly compromise the music in the mix. The result is voyeuristic snapshot of two musicians playing purely for their own enjoyment, working out tunes on the spot and tinkering expressively with standard and blues building blocks.

Numerous standards from Evans evolving songbook are on display, starting with a choppy, but spirited reading of “Tenderly.” Elliott joins in for the first several minutes on vibes, but soon drops out leaving the pianist to explore the melody in isolation. Several false starts marked by luminous washes of melodic color from Elliott preface “Laura” and the vibraphonist takes the initial lead before relinquishing control again to Evans dancing chords. He returns later in the piece voicing some intriguing vocal percussion effects that simulate the sounds of high hat clip clops and staccato rim shots. Evans answers in between with a series of angular fills and at times Elliott’s pedal sustain tests the sonic edges of the session microphones creating brittle echo that contrasts nicely with the pianist’s more lyrical passages. Later explorations follow an analogous pattern with one man getting the ball rolling and the other joining soon after to keep the inertial flow free from obstacles with mixed success. Evans runs a solitary race on a handful pieces too such as the lovely “Everything Happens to Me” and a series of fragmentary renderings starting with “Like Someone In Love” and ending with “Thou Swell.”

The rough-hewn nature of most of the improvisations is in some instances distracting, but once the pair finds a common speed and direction their interplay is often absorbing and instructive. Tune lengths seem to be almost purely a matter of whim coupled with the relative level of synchronous communication achieved. Fans of Evans (and Elliott) will certainly relish the chance to hear their heroes in such casual repartee, but other listeners with less of an admiration may feel otherwise as there are frequent tangents, stops and detours in the duo’s journey. On a peripheral note the disc’s cover pictures Elliott clutching a mellophone, a grin suffusing his features. Why he didn’t unpack the horn for the date is mystery, but image offers a tempting hint of the music that might have resulted had he done so.

Milestone on the web: http://www.fantasyjazz.com


Track Listing: Tenderly/ I

Personnel: Bill Evans- piano; Don Elliott- vibes, percussion. Recorded: 1956 & 1957, Connecticut.

| Record Label: Fantasy Jazz | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Shop

More Articles

Read The Picasso Zone CD/LP/Track Review The Picasso Zone
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: February 23, 2017
Read The MUH Trio – Prague After Dark CD/LP/Track Review The MUH Trio – Prague After Dark
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Les Deux Versants Se Regardent CD/LP/Track Review Les Deux Versants Se Regardent
by John Sharpe
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Molto Bene CD/LP/Track Review Molto Bene
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Fellowship CD/LP/Track Review Fellowship
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 22, 2017
Read E.S.T. Symphony CD/LP/Track Review E.S.T. Symphony
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 22, 2017
Read "Binary & Mysteries of the Deep" CD/LP/Track Review Binary & Mysteries of the Deep
by Troy Dostert
Published: October 20, 2016
Read "Carol Morgan Quartet - Post Cool Vol. 1 The Night Shift" CD/LP/Track Review Carol Morgan Quartet - Post Cool Vol. 1 The Night Shift
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: February 14, 2017
Read "New Spring - Live At The Village Vanguard" CD/LP/Track Review New Spring - Live At The Village Vanguard
by Budd Kopman
Published: November 8, 2016
Read "Intuit" CD/LP/Track Review Intuit
by Mark Corroto
Published: July 14, 2016
Read "Dobbeltgaeenger" CD/LP/Track Review Dobbeltgaeenger
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: June 12, 2016
Read "The Outlier" CD/LP/Track Review The Outlier
by Budd Kopman
Published: August 17, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!