Bill Evans The Way To Play

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LABELS: Properbox
ALBUM TITLE: Bill Evans The Way To Play
WORKS: The Way To Play
PERFORMER: Bill Evans, Bob Brookmeyer (piano); Teddy Kotick, Scott LaFaro, Percy Heath, Sam Jones (bass); Paul Motian, Connie Kay, Philly Joe Jones (drums)


Pianist Bill Evans, who died in 1980, was hugely influential and there’s a direct link between his trio work of the late-1950s collected here and the 21st-century sounds of Keith Jarrett, Brad Mehldau and EST. As a soloist he combined lyrical sensitivity with a luminous sound; as an improviser he could swing intensely or build emotional charge with achingly spare voicings and touches. But these impeccable live and studio sessions reveal how, instead of dominating the music, Evans left space in his playing to integrate the double bass and drums.

Evans’s magical original signature tunes ‘Blue In Green’, ‘Waltz For Debby’ and the sublime ‘Peace Piece’ are all here. The only digression in the seven plus album box set is where Evans is paired with trombonist-turned-pianist Bob Brookmeyer for half a dozen tracks. Otherwise, this is essential listening for anyone interested in the development of modern jazz.


Garry Booth