On the one hand, the release of previously unknown recordings of jazz icons long deceased should be cause for celebration. But then (and there is a but), how are today’s unknown young musicians looking to find an audience for their music to compete. It is not farfetched to argue that what seems to be a constant stream of newly hatched material from past masters may well have a less than happy effect on the development of new voices. After all, why take a chance and buy the debut album of an unfamiliar musician when you can load up on classics?
That said, it would be churlish to complain when newly discovered work from a jazz genius like the great Bill Evans comes available. So, to those unknown young jazz musicians struggling for notice, apologies to you. Resonance Records’ upcoming release of Evans’ Some Other Time: The Lost Session from the Black Forest, a two-disc studio set recorded at MPS Studios in Germany on June 20, 1968, may be taking the air out of your market, but we’re talking about Bill Evans.
The set gets the full Resonance treatment with an elaborate 40-page booklet including an essay by producer Zev Feldman detailing how he came across the recordings, and a brilliant essay on Evans from critic Marc Myers. There are also interviews with trio members Eddie Gomez and Jack DeJonette, as well as a special limited edition hand-numbered two-LP set in addition to the deluxe two-CD set and digital edition.
The recordings have the pianist playing in solo, duo, and trio settings. Disc one has 11 tracks and contains the material from the session that was intended for release when and if contracted approvals could be arranged. The second disc contains the rest of the recorded material which producer Feldman felt was just as worthy of public attention.
While bassist Gomez was to play with Evans for quite a few years, this is the only studio recording of the pianist with drummer DeJohnette, who only played with him for about six months. Myers’ essay tries to explain the impact of the drummer on Evans’ playing. DeJohnette’s “tender, kinetic drumming style caught Evans’ ear, educating him on the interplay possible when percussive figures are feathery and challenging.” He hears in the collaboration between them an indication of Evans’ future direction.
Highlights on Disc one include the opener “You Go to My Head,” a lyrically intense “My Funny Valentine,” duo versions of “I’ll Remember April” and “Baubles, Bangles and Beads.” Duke Ellington’s “In a Sentimental Mood” gets a classic treatment as does Evans own composition “Very Early.”
Disc two, which opens and closes with versions of “You’re Gonna Hear from Me,” also has an alternative trio version of “Baubles, Bangles and Beads” providing for some interesting comparisons. There are solo versions of “It’s All Right with Me” (which is marked incomplete” and “Lover Man (Oh, Where Can You Be?).”
Some Other Time is a welcome addition to the Bill Evans canon.