At the Montreux Jazz Festival

COMPOSERS: Various
LABELS: Verve
ALBUM TITLE: Bill Evans
PERFORMER: Bill Evans (p), Eddie Gomez (b), Jack DeJohnette (d)
CATALOGUE NO: 539 758-2

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Perhaps it was the mountain air, but Evans, noted for his introspection, became much more of an expansive player during this concert on 15 June 1968, and even more extrovert on Montreux II (Columbia/Sony Jazz) two years later. Evans was a sensitive player, but he also had a more declamatory side as his recordings with Philly Joe Jones and the British drummer Tony Oxley revealed. Yet it was not until the last couple of years of his life that this aspect of his playing was integrated into his style. Until then his rhythmic approach seemed mediated by the individual characteristics of the various drummers who played with him.

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His relationship with DeJohnette, then on his way to becoming one of the finest drummers in jazz, was of mutual respect. DeJohnette has always been a vivid colourist and the fascination of these tracks is how Evans was able to absorb Ellington-like the drummer’s more forthright style to broaden the emotional expressionism of the trio. Evans’s style, incorporating rootless chords voiced in ways that often gave a modal feel to his harmonic voicings, his acute rhythmic sensitivity and his melodic grace, which somehow unfurled like a composition within a composition, marked him as one of the few musicians whose playing altered the course of jazz. Stuart Nicholson