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.
Church musicians, especially of the Anglican/Episcopal persuasion, should be happy that there's at least one person out there writing first-rate, functional, and very accessible (in the best sense) anthems and service music–music that dedicated, competent choirs and organists can perform to a high standard. Some listeners may recognize Grayston Ives (nom de plume of Bill Ives) for his years (in the 1980s) with the King's Singers where he both sang and contributed as an arranger.
The partnership of Serkin and Abbado in Mozart is a fascinating one. They are such different musical personalities, yet they work remarkably well together, so that each performance becomes an artistic amalgam of two quite different artistic approaches. Abbado matches a natural spontaneous warmth (listen to the beguiling way the orchestra shapes the secondary theme in the first movement of the A major Concerto) with the utmost refinement of detail; whereas Serkin, patrician, authoritative, strong, is more selfconsciously expressive when he deviates from a strictly rhythmic presentation of the melodic line in the same movement.
In the '60s the jazz pianist Bill Evans would occasionally record an orchestral "easy listening" session to pay the bills, with predictably mediocre results. But FROM LEFT TO RIGHT, while certainly easy on the ears, is also one of Evans' most intriguing "lost" records, brought to us courtesy of Verve's winning "By Request" series. The novelty is that Evans plays both Fender Rhodes and acoustic piano simultaneously in real time, trading off themes and improvs with deliberative taste and, of course, rare skill. The sessions were produced by Evans' long-time, protective manager Helen Keane, so there was little danger of "selling out."
The three albums tenorman Bill Barron made as a leader for Savoy Records in early 60s embody every facet of this accomplished jazzman as a talented soloist, composer and arranger. And, despite the similarities in their harmonic ideas, Barron was not a slavish disciple of John Coltrane.
For a brief time, tenor saxophonist Bill Holman and drummer Mel Lewis led a hard-swinging quintet based in Los Angeles. Trumpeter Lee Katzman, pianist Jimmy Rowles and bassist Wilford Middlebrook complete the group, a band that benefits greatly from the arrangements of Holman. Rowles contributed "502 Blues Theme," Holman brought in two songs, and the unit also performs the obscure "Mah Lindy Lou" and two originals. This album (originally on the Andex label) serves as proof that not all jazz recordings from Los Angeles in the 1950s are quiet and cool.