miércoles, 19 de noviembre de 2008
How my heart sings (1962)
NYC, May, 1962
Bill Evans (p) Chuck Israels (b) Paul Motian (d)
1. How My Heart Sings
2. I Should Care
3. In Your Own Sweet Way (take 1)
4. In Your Own Sweet Way (take 2)
5. Walking Up
7. 34 Skidoo
8. Ev’rything I Love
9. Show-Type Tune
"The Second Trio
A musical dimension had now been added to Evans' existential disorientation. Almost like a delayed-action bomb, the effect of LaFaro's death brought Evans down not immediately but gradually, leaving him devastated and more and more isolated. It was the young bass player Chuck Israels, a contemporary and friend of LaFaro's, who would interrupt this process. Israels learned of Scott's death while in Italy playing in the "pit" at the Spoleto festival in an orchestra for a ballet by Jerome Robbins. Although deeply grieved by this loss, Israels felt that he was good enough to fill the position that LaFaro had left vacant. The young, enterprising bass player knew there weren’t many alternatives around for Evans and, besides, this was something that he had always desired.
There were, in reality, two other bass players with a solo style that had absorbed the LaFaro approach who were moving in a direction which could have made them appealing to Evans; but it wasn't easy to get to them. One was Albert Stinson, very young at the time, who was to emerge shortly in a group with Chico Hamilton and who, by an incredible twist of fate, would pass away in 1969 at the same age as LaFaro; the other was Steve Swallow who, in 1961, had been the bass player on George Russell's Ezz-thetics.
But Israels got the job and, in early '62, Bill Evans' "second trio" was born. He had more than a few doubts. With LaFaro the trio had reached such musical heights, in concept and performance, that going any further was almost impossible to imagine. Still Evans and Israels began to meet and play together, entering into a less than easy relationship that, nonetheless, slowly brought the pianist's musical life back into focus. In the autumn of that fateful 1961 he had recorded as sideman with singer Mark Murphy and vibes player Dave Pike. In December he took part, with Israels and Motian, on an album by flutist Herbie Mann. But he didn't feel ready yet to record with a trio. It wasn’t until May of 1962, with the gracious but firm insistence of Orrin Keepnews, that he agreed to enter the studio to record for the seventh time under his own name.
Israels, as compared with LaFaro, was another thing altogether. Although less spectacular (besides, who could ever have equaled that genius?) he proved, in his four-year collaboration with Evans, a remarkable musical intelligence, a highly developed capacity to deeply feel and interact with the expressive moods of his leader, and a solid, dynamic swing as well. These qualities contributed greatly to his overcoming Evans' doubts and put him back on the road to developing his trio. The group would never reach the peaks that it had with LaFaro, but often was to offer some very valid examples of a "modern" trio. The experimental approach of the period 1959-61 having already been tested and approved, Israels managed to place himself as one of the three voices of a group where interplay was by now common procedure. In spite of a lower degree of authority and rhythmic/harmonic audacity than LaFaro, Israels was capable of not limiting himself to the standard role of accompanist, and to not passively seconding what the pianist was doing.
Some even saw in the arrival of Israels the possibility for Evans to finally take the situation in hand and show the determination of a true leader; a strength that had previously seemed to emerge only in some of his performances as sideman (Russell's celebrated All About Rosie is a good example), and which LaFaro's fiery, irrepressible energy may somehow have impeded. Yet others believe, to this day, that Israels' parsimonious and ponderous style worked better for Evans than that of LaFaro, and that, beyond any doubt, the new collaboration with Israels produced superior artistic results. Both theories contain a grain of truth (even though, naturally, it would cast some shadow over the previous "happy marriage" with LaFaro).
Israels' playing, in fact, was essential, and never went out-of-bounds as LaFaro's could sometimes seem to go. He pushed Evans to tell his musical stories "completely', without interfering with them, and did not force the pianist in directions where, perhaps, he did not want to go at that particular moment. Precisely for this reason perhaps some of Evans' albums with Israels and Motian, or with Larry Bunker on the drums, reach artistic peaks just as high as those of his period with LaFaro. Of course, after LaFaro's death, the innovative impetus in which he had involved the reluctant Evans came to an abrupt halt. No link, not even an indirect one, existed between Israels and the most experimental expressions of the time (Coleman, Dolphy, etc.) The new bass player did not oppose Evans' conservative tendencies, on the contrary he adapted himself.
Bill preferred working with "structured" materials where, despite the formal limitations, there was also a feeling of safety. He was capable of identifying with a song as if it were part of himself, expressing through it his existential burden: an almost religious approach to music, as he would say to journalist Ralph J. Gleason in an interview: “Jazz represents the whole person, not just some particular part and there is a spiritual side and a practical side ... Maybe I do everything for music. I live my life for music, in a way.”
On the occasion of an inquiry by Down Beat into the state of the evolution, or involution, of jazz piano in the mid-70s, a rather irritated Evans said: “I get a little bit angry at people who worry about perpetual progress. The criterion for which a thing has to absolutely be "avant-garde" seems to have become almost a sickness... Who is the most modern?... I would like people instead to ask: who is saying the best thing? who is making the most beautiful music?”
We have already said that the avant-garde never attracted Evans, who may have been who knows? - less ill-at-ease with Israels than with a musician like Scott LaFaro with his overwhelming and somewhat inconvenient personality. The new trio, however, surely displayed reduced internal “tension.” According to Orrin Keepnews, “Israels probably had the type of personality that Evans needed next to him at that time. Chuck shook Evans up and lit a spark under him.” With LaFaro the trio had evolved “from almost zero to a complete idea, to a real trio 'concept’” which would never have been possible without him. “I didn't know what to do. Coming out of Scott's death was very hard. I hardly played any more, and I didn’t realize how far away I was getting from my music.”
But the twofold pressure of Israels and the state of his finances brought him back to music. He had no choice - he needed money - and his main point of reference was none other than Keepnews himself. He was constantly asking for advances and usually the producer gave in, but not without some compensation - and this meant recordings. The risk, of course, was a sort of unplanned, mass-production which neither of them, for different reasons, wanted, but the situation offered few alternatives. So 1962 ended as one of Evans' most intensely active years in the recording studio with him working hard to repay Keepnews' generosity. He heavily increased his compositional activity, to the extent that he would carry his music notebook with him at all times, where ideas and themes could be tossed down on the road or during breaks in club performances. Show-Type Tune was practically completed on a New York subway train.
On the albums that mark Evans' return to trio work (How My Heart Sings RLP-9473; OJCCD 369-2) and Moonbeams RLP-9428; OJCCD-434-2) three of his original compositions appear for the first time on a recording: Walkin' Up, a fast piece with harmonies not unlike those which John Coltrane had been exploring for some years; 34 Skidoo, in which, with a vaguely French dance-mood, three-time sections animated by a searching restlessness, alternate with others more static in four-time that seem to arrest that sense of cyclical loss", that dizziness, that certain waltzes have; and finally, Re: Person I Knew, a piece among the most representative of all Evans' production. Here, against a bass pedal that remains throughout the piece, Evans lets loose a series of scales that respond to one another in a question-answer/tension-rest dialectic.
This sequence of "modes" recalls some musical atmospheres of Miles Davis' Kind of Blue (So What or Blue In Green), even though Evans is moving away from that "objective" and distant approach, going towards a narrative, autobiographical and tense framework. This song is part of that group of Evans' compositions (for example, Peace Piece) in which the harmony commands the melody, pieces that we could call "themes with variations". They lend themselves to a type of treatment that is closer to that used by Bach in his well-known Ciaccona, or by Chopin in his Berceuse, than to a (re)compositional process possible on the harmonic changes of a song. The harmonic sequences of this type of piece create a sort of hypnotic circularity which, because of its reiteration, is less subject to wide emotional leaps. In 1962, along with this intensification of his compositional and studio work, Evans' drug habit started to get really heavy. Gene Lees, his personal friend and supporter, tells of sordid scenes of his need for a fix, of the cynicism of the loan-sharks and dealers (one of whom was nicknamed "Bebop"), of the electricity being cut off for non-payment of bills. Ellaine, Evans' sweet girlfriend - strung out herself - made a desperate, fruitless, attempt to get Bill off dope by quitting first herself, going as far as to write up a pledge that she tried to convince Bill to sign. Evans lived through all this hell with an extraordinarily shocking lucidity; he knew perfectly well that this nightmarish experience was “like death and transfiguration.” “Every day you wake in pain like death and then you go out and score, and that is transfiguration” he would say: “each day becomes all of life in a microcosm.”
However, in the midst of all this darkness, a meeting was to take place in that year that would change his career. Lees had asked his girlfriend, Helen Keane, to consider becoming Evans' manager. At the time she was working on behalf of the singer Mark Murphy, and had had a part in launching the careers of artists such as Marlon Brando and Harry Belafonte. Lees invited Helen to hear Evans play and she was so deeply moved by what she heard -“Oh no,” she said, “this is the one that could break my heart” - that she immediately agreed to be his manager, becoming over the years one of the most decisive people in Evans' artistic career."
(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 !!!)