Live at Hilversum - 1968
At the peak of his artistry, Bill Evans gave a performance of astonishing intensity. Deep, emotional and elegant, this haut couturier of jazz once again demonstrated his unsettlingly eloquent mastery of harmony, rhythm and improvisation. A true and timeless legend.
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Who was that man slipping discretely into VARA’s tiny Hilversum studio on June 22 1968? He had the slim silhouette of Yves Saint Laurent, with the same “don’t mind me” attitude. It was none other than Bill Evans. Following in his footsteps, all smiles, were drummer Jack DeJohnette and Puerto Rican bass player Eddie Gomez, his trusty touring partner of several years. One month previously they had won a historical Grammy Award in Montreux. A consecration for Bill Evans and confirmation that his art had reached dazzling heights.
A first cigarette, closely followed by a first solo: a ballad on You’re Gonna Hear From Me. The fascinating energy between Eddie and Bill became instantly apparent as they built up the backbone to the melody, and then let it roll as if it could no longer be controlled. Bill, the solitary explorer, introduced this trio technique based on the freedom of each of the musicians. But it was no more than a presumption of freedom, because Bill knew full well the form the journey would take, its twists and turns, and its end.
The chords played by his left hand constituted the base, as demonstrated spectacularly in Very Early, one of his compositions that abruptly plunged the audience into a smoky New York bar. And so the tone was set: never excessive or remotely vulgar. Profound, emotional and elegant.
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