Bill Evans ‘Another Time: The Hilversum Concert’ LP/CD (Resonance) 4/5

First of all, this is not a part of the wonderful MPS studio sessions that came out in 2016 on Resonance. Instead, it is a completely separate studio session that took place in Holland at the Hilversum studio to the south-east of Amsterdam, on 22 June 1968. As such, the many Bill Evans devotees will wish to purchase both this and the 2CD set of MPS recordings.

The chronology here is important insofar as it places the Bill Evans trio European tour of that year into a wider context. In June of that year Evans and trio had performed at the fifteenth incarnation of the Montreux Jazz Festival and the recording of that performance released on Verve records went on to become a defining moment in Evans’ career, and certainly among the very finest live recordings he ever made, including the seminal Village Vanguard sessions in 1961 and, much later, in 1980. For the Dutch date, Evans’ regular trio of Eddie Gomez on bass and Jack deJohnette on drums are present, and it is the explorative inventiveness of the latter that is a defining characteristic of this excellent unreleased recording with fine sound quality. A selection of Evans’ favourites including self-penned compositions are on offer here. Of the standards, ‘You’re gonna hear from me’, written by the duo of André and Dory Previn, receives a gently swinging rendition that is, if anything, even stronger than previous versions. Deft work from deJohnette is equally a feature of, ‘Who can I turn to?’. Of the uptempo numbers, Miles Davis’ ‘Nardis’ is a clear illustration that when Evans needed to, he could compete on an equal footing with the hard bop musician fraternity. Another perennial favourite of Bill is, ‘Very early’, a waltz-like number that was in fact composed by Evans way back in the 1940s while he was still studying at college, according to the informative notes of regular Jazz Wax contributor Marc Myers. Indeed, the piece featured originally on the 1962 Riverside album, ‘Moonbeams’. If there was one composition that typified Evans, then, ‘Turn out the stars’, would be a prime contender, alongside possibly, ‘Waltz for Debbie’ (Evans acolytes would doubtless disagree and offer their own favourites) and this interpretation is one of the earlier examples and a fine slice of the Evans songbook. Listeners will marvel equally at a piece that Evans regularly deployed, ‘Five’, as the closing theme of his concerts during this period.

Rounding off matters is the superlative job done by Resonance in adding a lavish eight page booklet in A3 size that contains a plethora of information that readers will soak up and among the golden nuggets, one finds interviews with Eddy Gomez, Jack deJohnette and Steve Kuhn, while original producer Joop de Roo sheds light on how the session came about. A wider historical context is provided by regular music writer Marc Myers. The gatefold sleeve contains further black and white photos of the trio and on the outer cover an evocative pose of Evans from a New York session.

Tim Stenhouse