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Review: Unreleased 1976 Bill Evans Trio gig intimate treat

Associated Press logo Associated Press 4/3/2017 By PABLO GORONDI, Associated Press
This cover image released by Fantasy Records shows "On A Monday Evening," a release by Bill Evans Trio. (Fantasy Records via AP) © The Associated Press This cover image released by Fantasy Records shows "On A Monday Evening," a release by Bill Evans Trio. (Fantasy Records via AP)

Bill Evans Trio, "On A Monday Evening" (Fantasy Records)

"On A Monday Evening" is the first release of a 1976 recording by the Bill Evans Trio, an autumn concert in Wisconsin that finds the influential pianist and his partners in outstanding form.

Sharing the stage with bassist Eddie Gomez and drummer Eliot Zigmund on Evans originals like "Sugar Plum" and "Time Remembered" or standards like "All of You" and "Someday My Prince Will Come," the leader and his ensemble's improvisational brilliance makes this release well worth discovering.

Recorded at the University of Wisconsin's Madison Union Theater by radio DJs who interviewed Evans then, the sound is well-balanced, surprisingly good mono and feels intimate despite the large auditorium.

The impact of Bill Evans on jazz pianists and beyond — from Keith Jarrett to Lyle Mays to Fred Hersch — has been described as "overpowering." From his contributions to Miles Davis' "Kind of Blue" to his groundbreaking trio with Scott LaFaro and Paul Motian, Evans innovated, fascinated and entertained in large measure.

Gomez, who spent over a decade with Evans, and Zigmund, whose tenure in the 1970s was shorter but also well regarded, provide not only imaginative support but also exceptional creative skills developing deep musical feedback with the ringing tones of Evans' piano. On the bowed (or arco) bass solo on "All of You," Gomez occasionally makes his instrument sound like a saxophone.

Over the nearly 47 minutes in this set, Evans, Gomez and Zigmund add a precious chapter to their high-caliber legacy.

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