viernes, 5 de diciembre de 2008

Conversations with myself - Bill Evans - (1963)

January 1963

'Round Midnight; How About You?; Spartacus Love Theme; Blue Monk; Stella By Starlight; Hey, There; N.Y.C.'s No Lark; Just You, Just Me; Bemsha Swing; A Sleepin' Bee.


Bill Evans - Piano.


"In February 1963 Evans' extreme withdrawal into himself produced an album that was a hit with the critics. Conversations With Myself (which won the Grammy Award for best instrumental jazz performance of 1963; Verve V6-8526; CD 821-984-2) was made by over-dubbing three recordings of himself, thereby creating a sort of "three-pianist trio.”

This over-dubbing technique was not entirely new to jazz: Lennie Tristano, in fact, had done the same thing in the 1950s, causing no small stir among the critics at the time, The peculiarity of the thing spurred Evans, however, to clarify his intentions in the album's liner notes, in which he said that he considered that strange "trio" a ”group"; for all intents and purposes it was a collective improvisation. Naturally the album demonstrates Evans' great capacity to carefully balance the three piano parts, even though the impression of artifice and of "personal challenge" prevail throughout its artistic content which, once again, seems necessarily to come to the foreground in relation to the pianist's "dark side".

N.Y.C.’s No Lark is conceived as a sort of dirge-like song in memory of the young pianist Sonny Clark who, tragically, had recently died as a result of drugs. The agonizing atmosphere of the piece, constructed as a kind of heavy funeral march in which Evans, using Debussy-like harmonies, refers to the more hidden, destructive aspects of a city like New York which (and for Evans himself it was, unfortunately, the same story) could easily become a painful and oppressive place. However, beyond the virtuosity Evans showed in handling a decidedly complex musical situation and his ability to "orchestrate", it seems rather to represent a curiosity along his musical path than a significant point of arrival.
Three months later, in May of 1963, going along with Creed Taylor's often disputable taste, Evans recorded an album for MGM on which his performance consisted simply of playing famous Hollywood themes according to the most banal and simplistic parameters of elevator music. Despite the slick presentation in the liner notes (“Evans can explore a pop tune and give it a dignity and meaning it never received before”), the album collapses into a completely conventional, commercialized product, whose total disengagement was in deep contrast with the constant appeal to beauty that Evans was always making in his statements. Evans restricts himself to playing the melody of the pieces in the most pedestrian way imaginable, succeeding in coming dangerously close, if not in fact crossing over, into the style of sequined ballroom entertainers. Evans, aware of this self-annihilation and, disturbed by the whole thing, thought at first of hiding behind his Russian name, but after releasing the album he rationalized that “if this record could have done something for widening my audience, getting better distribution for my other records, I'm all for it. Because it's a cold, hard business.” His hopes of making money, however, didn't pan out but somehow, perhaps in spite himself, he managed to avoid ruining his artistic image forever. The brilliant arranger Claus Ogerman had been brought in for the occasion, and would go on to work with Evans on various other recording projects, the most successful among which the album Symbiosis in 1974."

(Bill Evans: Ritratto d’artista con pianoforte/Bill Evans: The Pianist as an Artist.Enrico Pieranunzi, Rome 1999, Stampa Alternativa)(thanks !!!)

2 comentarios:

Anónimo dijo...

Analog Burner dijo...

Great album, great post, thanks!!!