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The Very Best Of

The Bill Evans Trio

Riverside

As the bebop of the '40s transformed into the Free Jazz anarchy of the '60s Bill Evans hung on to the more traditional styling yet recorded one of the best selling jazz albums of all time: Miles Davis's Kind of Blue. According to the nifty historical booklet in this disc Evans has over 100 titles to his name; this Riverside retrospective picks 11 cuts, and they are the Best of the Best.

"Autumn Leaves" opens the collection, its instantly recognizable melody is bolstered by Paul Motian's drums and a racing stand up bass driven by Scott LaFaro. Next up is the more sedate "How Deep Is the Ocean?" penned by Irving Berlin, now its sounding completely mid-century cool with no trace of the Brill Building left on it. Evans admired the classic composers and next up is Cole Porter's "What Is this Thing Called Love?" You really have to focus to hear Porter, Evan's arrangements are truly Jazz improvisation, but improvisation with the discipline to recreate everything exactly the same every take. Davis's material appears on the exciting yet restrained "Blue in Green." This almost counts as a love song, or at least a chance for you and your date to sway around the dance floor for a while. "Nardis" is another of Davis's compositions that flows smoothly into the collection, the cut nicely balances each of the instruments in the trio and giving everyone a solo.

There's more here, of course, and I recommend you discover it. This is jazz history, one of America's few original musical inventions.

Bill Evans: billevanswebpages.com