This newly issued DVD provides footage of the late and undeniably influential pianist Bill Evans' performances across Europe, spanning 1964-1975. Including an extensive booklet with photos and reminisces by Evans’ daughter Maxine, the program offers a comprehensive documentary of the pianist’s various trios, presented in chronological order.
The booklet features a conversation with bassist Chuck Israels (appearing on the 1964 tracks) who discusses Evans’ ability to play so wondrously amid his drug addiction while providing other insights about the pianist’s sense of organization et al. And Maxine Evans recollects the time when she rode in a limo with her father and Tony Bennett from New York to the Mike Douglas Show in Pennsylvania. Nonetheless, there’s a wealth of information to accompany the video. With the opening moments of "My Foolish Heart," from a 1964 performance in Sweden, we see the paradigm of Evans’ stage persona, where he faces down towards the keyboard via his trance-like enactments.
Alto sax great Lee Konitz sits in with the band for a breezy, mid-tempo swing on "My Melancholy Baby, which is a highlight from Evans’ 1965 gig in France. Here, the audience is treated to a flawlessly executed drum solo by Alan Dawson, who employs cross-sticking and other difficult to execute techniques. Of course, the late drummer was a revered clinician. Yet Evans remains the focal point during all of his trio permutations up through the color footage of his 1975 Danish TV set with bassist Eddie Gomez and drummer Eliot Zigmund.
Evans’ lyrically rich chord voicings and wondrous harmonic movements were engineered upon an ever-present sense of buoyancy and swing, regardless of pitch or tempo. A giant among jazz pianists, his artistry is often imitated, although his impressionable mark of authenticity can never be compromised. The film shows Evans bridging the gap between trad-jazz, bop and modern mainstream while conveying variable stylistic changes along the way. (Essential.... )