Seven weeks before recording with Miles Davis on Kind of Blue, Bill Evans went into the studio with a trio of his own to record an album. Accompanied by Sam Jones on bass and Philly Joe Jones on drums, the music was recorded in one mid-December afternoon. Only his second album, Everybody Digs Bill Evans revealed the intelligent, emotional and understated style that became Evans’ definitive sound; today it remains a quiet milestone of modal jazz.
Evans first album, recorded in 1956, had been a display of technical playing that had left him unsatisfied. In the recording heavy atmosphere of New York City, he decided to wait two years before trying again under his own name. This second time, on Everybody Digs, pieces like "Minority" and "Oleo" recall, in a very positive way, the fiery technique from his first album. They are crisp, impeccably played and they swing deep. Philly Joe Jones introduces Cole Porter’s "Night and Day" playing on the rims of his trap set and Evans needs no prodding once he starts playing.
Yet Evans’ new control of the piano becomes most obvious in the way he transforms a song like "Young and Foolish" from a hackneyed ballad into a beautiful ebbing piece. His hesitation, light touch, and rich chordal voicings give the song a subtle and suspended feeling. Other ballads like "Lucky to Be Me," "What is There to Say" and "Tenderly" are similar with their natural warm sound. His self-written piano solo, "Peace Piece," with its slowly striding left hand is ethereal and calming music. For all of its technical grace, this album is defined by the original emotion of its ballads. Evans’ sound is slightly classical and at the same time, pure improvisational jazz.
Critical of even the finest musicians, Miles Davis once admitted that he "loved to hear [Bill] play." Saying, "I would call Bill up and tell him to take the phone off the hook; just leave it off and play for me." Evans’ enveloping sound on this album deserves such a compliment. It is at the same time strong and fragile, straightforward and elusive. It is a pleasure to hear and rehear and proof of Evans’ prominent place in the history of jazz.