From Miles Davis' Doo-Bop to albums by Greg Osby and Steve Coleman, much of the "jazz/rap fusion" released has been more hip-hop than jazz – essentially, hip-hop with jazz overtones. Bill Evans, however, has featured rappers in much the way a hard bopper would feature a singer – on "Reality" and the poignant, reggae-influenced "La Di Da," rapper Ahmed Best successfully interacts with an actual, spontaneous, improvisatory band instead of merely pre-recorded tracks. Best's rapping style – a cerebral approach akin to De La Soul and A Tribe Called Quest instead of more hardcore rappers like Tupac Shakur and Ice-T – is well-suited to this challenging and complex jazz-fusion setting.
Hugely acclaimed for his remarkable grasp of melody, harmony and interpretation, Bill Evans has earned his reputation as one of the most influential pianists and composers in jazz history. Classically trained from an early age, Evans initially made a name for himself working with other famous figures of the jazz genre, including George Russell, Cannonball Adderley, Chet Baker and Miles Davis, and his playing was a key feature on the latter s legendary Kind Of Blue (Columbia, 1959). By the early 1960s, Bill Evans began focussing on leading his own groups, primarily trios. Over the rest of his career, he put out a staggering body of work, including the classic albums Sunday At The Village Vanguard and Waltz For Debby (both Riverside, 1961). He received 31 Grammy nominations during his lifetime, taking away nine awards in total, and earned himself a place in the Down Beat Jazz Hall Of Fame.
With this subtly provocative solo recital, Ted Rosenthal merges three very different streams of piano history, putting his personal stamp on all of them. He pays homage to Bill Evans with "I Loves You Porgy," "Turn out the Stars," and "Waltz for Debby," playing the last in 5/4 but reverting to 4/4 only on his second solo chorus. The Bud Powell portion is more extensive, consisting of "Tempus Fugit," "Wail," "I'll Keep Loving You," "Celia," "Parisian Thoroughfare," and, in another 5/4 interpretation, the closing "Tea for Two." Last but not least, Rosenthal unveils his improvisational approach to Beethoven with the latter two movements of the "Pathetique" sonata, as well as the third movement of "Opus 109," which inspires a full nine minutes of spirited invention. In Rosenthal's hands all this music sounds as though it sprang from the same muse, and that's the sign of a skilled, imaginative artist.
An extension of the popular Original Jazz Classics series (est. 1982), the new OJC Remasters releases reveal the sonic benefits of 24-bit remastering-a technology that didn't exist when these titles were originally issued on compact disc. The addition of newly-written liner notes further enhances the illuminating quality of the OJC Remasters reissues. "Each of the recordings in this series is an all-time jazz classic," says Nick Phillips, Vice President of Jazz and Catalog A&R at Concord Music Group and producer of the series.