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Two Bill Evans Record Store Day Releases


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Morning Glory: The 1973 Concert At The Teatro Gran Rex, Buenos Aires and Inner Spirit: The 1979 Concert at the Teatro General San Martín, Buenos Aires (Resonance Records), never officially released before, were both recorded in Buenos Aires, six years apart. Bill Evans, who many a critic would claim to be the most significant pianist of the 20th century, would be dead within a year of the second of the two concerts heard here. We certainly must recognize the detective work of Zev Feldman and Resonance Records for finding these recordings and the handful of other 'found' Evans tapes that were carefully remastered and published with the approval of the pianist's estate.

Besides his solo work and of course his collaboration with Miles Davis on Kind Of Blue (Columbia, 1960), it is Evans' trio work that is his true legacy. Throughout these two concerts, 1973 and 1979, Evans' keyboard touch is immediately recognizable. Classically trained, before taking up improvisation, his sound always relied on melody and a search for beauty. That is evident here and in the hundreds of studio and live recordings.

What endures in these concert tapes, and what the audience certainly was anticipating, was the trio's interactions. By 1973, listeners would have heard Sunday At The Village Vanguard (Riverside, 1961) and marveled at the three-way conversation between Evans, bassist Scott LaFaro and drummer Paul Motian. While the pianist was the accredited leader, the interplay and individual voices of LaFaro and Motian were a revelation. The same can be said of the two trios heard here. Evans employed many bassists after the tragic death of LaFaro in 1961 and different drummers after Motian departed. Critics and fans love to argue as to which was Evans' finest trio. Was it LaFaro, Motion and Sam Jones; Philly Joe Jones, Eddie Gomez and Jack DeJohnette; Gomez, Marty Morell and Chuck Israels; or Larry Bunker, Marc Johnson and Joe La Barbera? That argument thankfully, will never be settled.

With these two concerts we have more material for discussion. Both were recorded during a time of turbulent unrest in Argentina. The 1973 concert occurred on the heels of President Juan Perón's return after an 18 year exile in Spain and by 1979, a military junta was in power. While the tensions were evident outside the hall, the performances inside acted as a perfect panacea. In both recordings we hear an enthusiastic, almost relieved audience response. Evans' performance is as steady and beautiful as expected. The spotlight here is the dialogue between Evans, bass, and drums. Like an equilateral triangle, each musician is given a balanced segment to solo and channel the music, that is after Evans introduces the composition. Repeated spins, you might favor Gomez one day and Johnson another, same with Morell and LaBarbera. Compare the 1973 rendition of "Waltz For Debby" with that of the 1961 Vanguard date, or Evans late period recordings and his penchant for covering Johnny Mandel's "Theme From M*A*S*H" with its melancholy lyric "Suicide is Painless." Both of these dates are masterful and overflow with ineffable beauty.

The music is being released as double CDs and Record Store Day double vinyl LPs.

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