George Russell - Smalltet - Jazz Workshop
1. Ye Hypocrite, Ye Beelzebub
2. Jack's Blues
3. Livingstone I Presume
5. Night Sound
6. Round Johnny Rondo
7. Fellow Delegates
8. Witch Hunt
9. The Sad Sergeant
10. Knights Of The Steamtable
11. Ballad Of Hix Blewitt
12. Concerto For Billy The Kid
13. Ballad Of Hix Blewitt (Alternate Take)
14. Concerto For Billy The Kid (Alternate Take)
Art Farmer (tp) Hal McKusick (fl, as) Bill Evans (p) Barry Galbraith (g) Teddy Kotick (b) George Russell (chromatic d -1) Osie Johnson (woodblocks -1, d -2/5)
"In July of 1955 Bill moved to New York. The desire to get to work was there. He began to take courses in composition at the Mannes School of Music and recorded with some minor musicians. At the beginning of the following year the opportunity to make himself known to a wider range of musicians presented itself. He was invited by George Russell to play in a session with his Jazz Small-tet to be recorded on RCA. Russell, born thirty-three years earlier in Cincinnati, and originally a drummer (he had had to turn down a gig with Charlie Parker for reasons of poor health), had been formulating an innovative theory over the preceding years on the relationship between melody and harmony in jazz.
This new approach was based on a concept of pantonality - which he distinguished from atonality - and had been summarized in a text entitled TheLydian Chromatic Concept of Tonal Organization (download pdf) . The idea of fusing the most specifically "black' aspects of Afro-American music with elements from the European musical tradition intrigued not a few musicians in those years of the mid-1950s. But Russell, thanks to an insightful musical intelligence and a healthy dose of creativity, succeeded in avoiding the traps inherent in this kind of intermingling. In fact, as many examples of the so-called Third Stream (the movement that claimed to fuse jazz with contemporary classical music) had demonstrated, this cross-pollination could easily generate monsters.
The personnel that Russell had planned for that first session on March 31st included Art Farmer, trumpet; Hal McKusick, alto saxophone; Barry Galbraith, guitar; Milt Hinton, double bass; and Joe Harris, drums - which meant for the 27-year-old Evans a much more prestigious company than he had been accustomed to. The session also represented an immense leap in quality with respect to Russell's compositions which, even today at a distance of more than forty years, retain a noteworthy complexity. They recorded four selections that day. Evans felt comfortable. He showed that he was in possession of exactly the background required to confidently follow the path traced by Russell in his composition; this means an extensive preparation in and exposure to classical music and, in addition, that sort of perseverance which, over the years, had helped him to absorb the Bop language, and later that of the so-called cool jazz (Tristano, Konitz).
He was more than ready to face the alternation of written parts with improvisations on pre-planned chord changes. He was allowed space for some solos and it seemed that he expected nothing less, exuding energy and even happiness in his playing. It is clear that he is "full" of jazz and that he was just waiting for the right opportunity to express himself. His solo in Ezz-thetic [based on the chord changes to Love for Sale] is rich in rhythmic vitality. The phrasing of the right hand recalls Horace Silver, of whom Evans was a passionate follower at the time, and he even quotes a couple of his typical phrases at the opening of the solo. But there is already a precise stylistic identity in this solo. We can recognize it, for example, in the masterful way with which he manages the relationship between left and right hand sounds.
In Ye Hypocrite, Ye Beelzebub Evans does an uproarious solo; the long, snakey lines of the right hand trace an unpredictable path of great harmonic imagination in the middle-low register of the keyboard. In this solo he completely quits using the left hand, which allows him to function like a horn with no need to be subject to the harmonically conditioning tyranny of the left hand. Here his style is reminiscent of Lennie Tristano, a musician whose skill in structuring the music and tracing lines had always charmed Evans; but the fluidity, the souplesse, the full and yet delicate tone are already, unmistakably, Evans'. About six months later the same combo, with Paul Motian replacing Harris, recorded another four selections. Among these that Concerto for Billy the Kid where Evans played a solo that shook jazz-listeners and musicians alike.
His phrasing in this celebrated studio performance is dense and compelling. Here and there we note the influence of Stan Getz, a saxophone player whom Evans greatly admired. But, once again, it is the rhythmic thrust that is amazing. After the rapid and demanding initial two-handed octave passages in the upper register of the keyboard that reveal the brilliant, sure technique of the not-yet-27-year-old pianist, Evans literally explodes into a gripping improvisation on the chord changes of I'll Remember April [i.e.: the chord changes for Concerto for Billy the Kid]. Evans proves here that he can really swing hard, and this enormous skill is soon to earn him notable credibility even among black circles, notoriously critical from this point of view."
(Bill Evans: Ritratto d’artista con pianoforte/Bill Evans: The Pianist as an Artist.Enrico Pieranunzi, Rome 1999, Stampa Alternativa)(thanks http://jazzprofiles.blogspot.com !!!)