The year was 2006 and during my freshmen year of college, a friend of mine handed me the album Undercurrent, a duet album featuring Bill Evans on piano and Jim Hall on guitar. This album changed my life. I had no clue who Bill Evans was, and frankly I had no idea who I was either. I would later learn that I was not alone in finding him to be outstanding. Bill Evans is known as one of the most influential jazz pianists of the 1960s. Making the piano sing with his beautiful melody lines, using French Impressionists’ chord structure and creating a dialogue in the world of the jazz trio, Bill Evans opened jazz up to a whole new audience.
Bill Evans also opened up a whole new world for me. At the time I was a theory/composition major and had not listened to much jazz. Listening to that album gave me an indescribable feeling, and I wanted to make people feel that same way. The following semester I switched my major to jazz studies.
Besides being extremely talented, deeply soulful and highly intellectual all at once, one key thing about the great jazz musicians is how prolific they were. Bill Evans recorded over 50 albums as a leader. That number does not take into account any of the albums he was a “sideman” on such as Kind of Blue. Bill Evans died too soon at the age of 51, but we are lucky enough to have recordings of his music. While many of these recordings are readily available, occasionally jazz connoisseurs are blessed with a previously undiscovered release.
Tuesday, June 12 is one such day. A set of concerts has recently been discovered of Bill Evans performing at Greenwich Village in ‘68. Reported to be a vibrant recording of Bill Evans and his trio this release will rival albums such as Bill’s Live at the Village Vanguard. Performing alongside Bill is bassist Eddie Gomez and drummer Marty Morrell. Look for Titled Live at Art D’Lugoff’s Top of the Gate on iTunes of Amazon. Just to name a few, you can look for classic Bill Evans’ such as “Emily,” “Turn Out the Stars,” and “Autumn Leaves.”
Check out a bit of the recording along with commentary: