21 February 2013 Stuff We Like
Bill Evans Trio - Portrait In Jazz
1959 was a big year for the jazz master pianist Bill Evans. Not having quite met the gaze of mainstream success until that seminal year, it was Evans addition to Miles Davis’s famed Sextet of the late 50’s that produced Kind of Blue, the best-selling Jazz album of all time. Though found and heard extensively on five out of six tracks of Kind of Blue, It is “Blue in Green”, the third track on the A side of the record, which rings true with Evans’ cascading lyricism.
Davis had famously approached Evans with the task of writing the song only a day or two prior to its recording. He told the pianist that the song should involve two basic chord structures, but that the rest would be up to him. Evans proceeded to stay up all night writing the song, which later not only debuted his incredible talent but also characterized the very essence and state of popular jazz at the time. Though Miles Davis also famously claimed ownership and most of the royalties from the song, it is refreshing to know that Evans continued to play it in his own musical setting and direction. It is therefore no surprise that “Blue in Green” appears not once but twice on Evans’ solo record of the same year Portrait in Jazz.
Portraits in Jazz marked the beginning of when Bill Evans became known for his preferred explorations and direction in trios, where his piano playing would have more room to come through in the sonic mixes of recordings and live performances. Evans along with bassist Scott LaFaro, and drummer Paul Motian, counterbalance one another perfectly on track after track of this record. They as a whole prove how powerful an instrumental three-piece band can be despite its minimalist nature. Opening track “Come rain or shine” beckons a listener with Evan’s watery flourishes of piano, while ballads such as “When I fall in love” and “Springtime” depict his ever seasonal and melancholy voice. The album as a whole is a gem born right out of a golden age of Jazz, and is a fantastic listen for anyone seeking to feel warm in the wintertime.
– Harlan Steed