Legendary jazz pianist Bill Evans is most often thought of as a "trio" player, as most of his albums have been piano/bass/drums, with the occasional solo or duo album. But he did record a select few albums with orchestras, and that's what makes SYMBIOSIS a special and unique entry in Evans' hugh catalog. Recorded in 1974, it was released in 1994 on CD for the first time. Further, this albums contains no standards or Evans originals–the title piece is a multi-part suite composed, arranged and conducted by Claus Ogerman (who also collaborated with Stan Getz and Frank Sinatra, among many others).
German-born composer and arranger Claus Ogerman, born in 1930, must rank as one of the most versatile musicians of the twentieth century. When he was at his peak in the 1970s, writing everything from ballet scores to arrangements for Brazilian composer Antonio Carlos Jobim, diva Barbra Streisand, and jazz/R&B saxophonist George Benson, there was hardly a radio station on the dial where his music wasn't heard during the course of a typical day – and he's still quite active. The key to his success has been his ability to stay in the background behind the musician he's working with and yet create something distinctive. This 1982 collaboration with the late jazz saxophonist Michael Brecker is one of his most successful works, not least because the overlap between the extended harmonies of jazz and the chromaticism of the late German Romantic polyphony in which Ogerman was trained is large enough to allow Brecker to operate comfortably – his improvisations seem to grow naturally out of the background, and the intersections between jazz band and orchestral strings come more easily here than on almost any other crossover between jazz and classical music.
William John Evans, known as Bill Evans (pronunciation: /ˈɛvəns/, August 16, 1929 – September 15, 1980), was an American jazz pianist and composer who mostly worked in a trio setting. He is widely considered to be one of the greatest jazz pianists of all time, and is considered by some to have been the most influential post-World War II jazz pianist. Evans's use of impressionist harmony, inventive interpretation of traditional jazz repertoire, block chords, and trademark rhythmically independent, "singing" melodic lines continue to influence jazz pianists today. Unlike many other jazz musicians of his time, Evans never embraced new movements like jazz fusion or free jazz.
Bill Evans's Finest Hour represents a number of choice tidbits recorded by the pianist between 1958 and 1970 for Verve. The settings of these recordings range between the intricate trio work he became so identified with to, in at least one instance, full orchestration. While Evans is certainly capable of bopping with the best on songs like "Luck Be a Lady" and "I Should Care," his style glimmers more distinctly on quieter numbers. The fragile "Elsa" and subtle "Spring Is Here" allow him to slowly, though deliberately, develop his impressionistic piano lines.
With the passage of time, Bill Evans has become an entire school unto himself for pianists and a singular mood unto himself for listeners. There is no more influential jazz-oriented pianist only McCoy Tyner exerts nearly as much pull among younger players and journeymen and Evans has left his mark on such noted players as Herbie Hancock, Keith Jarrett, Chick Corea, Brad Mehldau. Borrowing heavily from the impressionism of Debussy and Ravel, Evans brought a new, introverted, relaxed, lyrical, European classical sensibility into jazz and that seems to have attracted a lot of young conservatory-trained pianists who follow his chord voicings to the letter in clubs and on stages everywhere.
THE COMPLETE BILL EVANS ON VERVE is an 18-disc, 269-track box set featuring every track that Bill Evans recorded for Verve between 1962 and 1969, including 98 previously-unreleased tracks. It includes a 160-page, full-color book. THE COMPLETE BILL EVANS ON VERVE was nominated for a 1998 Grammy Award for Best Recording Package - Boxed and for Best Historical Album. The 18 CDs in this exhaustive set provide a comprehensive picture of Bill Evans from 1962 to 1969, a period when the pianist was both consolidating his fame and sometimes taking his music into untested waters, from unaccompanied piano to symphony orchestra. His work with multitracked solo piano, originally released as Conversations with Myself and the later Further Conversations with Myself, was the most remarkable new format for his introspective music. It gave Evans a way to be all the pianists he could be at once–combining densely chordal, harmonically oblique parts with surprising, rhythmic punctuation and darting, exploratory runs.