Miles Davis 1958 session with Julian “Cannonball” Adderley, John Coltrane, BILL EVANS, Paul Chambers and Jimmy Cobb on rare Japanese issue.
1. On Green Dolphin Street (N. Washington-B. Kaper) 9:56
2. Fran Dance (M. Davis) 5:54
3. Stella by Starlight (N. Washington-V. Young) 4:50
4. Love for Sale (C. Porter) 11:47
5. Little Melonae (J. McLean) 7:21
Recorded : 1’ ~ 4’ May 26, 1958; 5’ March 4, 1958
May 26, 1958: Miles Davis (tpt); Julian “Cannonball” Adderley (as); John Coltrane (ts); Bill Evans (p); Paul Chambers (b); Jimmy Cobb (d)March 4, 1958: Miles Davis (tpt); John Coltrane (ts); Red Garland (p); Paul Chambers (b); Philly Joe Jones (d)
"Early in 1958, Miles Davis called and invited him to spend a weekend in Philadelphia - this was the beginning of one of the most intense periods in Evans' artistic career. Playing with Miles Davis meant nothing less than being part of the best-loved jazz group in the world at the moment; but it also meant, understandably, considerable physical and emotional stress. Life 'on-the-road' proved to be quite demanding, and then we mustn’t forget the hard-hitting musical excellence of the group itself ("I had the feeling I was playing with a bunch of supermen," Evans reported, referring to John Coltrane, Cannonball Adderley, Paul Chambers, Jimmy Cobb, not to mention Davis himself). Moreover, Davis and his group were idols for black Americans, and the idea that Miles had called a white guy in to take Red Garland's place didn't exactly make them jump for joy. (Evans later complained about the "silent treatment" he had received.) Regardless of all this, psychologically and artistically-speaking these were very valuable months for Evans, because that period helped him overcome his uncertainty and lack of faith, to the point where it could even be said that it was him that exerted a subtle but strong influence on the group's music.
The meeting between the two is narrated by Davis himself in his autobiography: "I needed a piano player who was into the modal thing and Bill Evans was. I met Bill through George Russell, whom Bill had studied with. ( ... ) As I was getting deeper into the modal thing, I asked George if he knew a piano player who could play the kinds of things I wanted, and he recommended Bill."
That "modal thing" that Davis was talking about was the leaving behind of bop, a natural progression that had reached its time by the end of the 1950s. Bop had led jazz harmony to its maximum complexity. The unpredictable or even programmed substitutions with which new chords were added to the basic harmony of a song (even a simple blues tune) crammed the pieces like a highway at rush-hour. Improvisation had become an obstacle course in which the winner was the one who multiplied the obstacles in order to then be able to say that he had overcome them. Jazz musicians were feeling, therefore, a great need to simplify, to bring jazz back to a higher degree of melodic essentialness. Miles, as always, had perceived this need before the others.
Milestones had been the first of his compositions to go in this new direction. This simplification process was not unlike that which occurred with European music after the orgy of modulations and widenings of the harmonic spectrum which culminated with Richard Wagner and his disciples. In contrast to the dynamic harmony of the Wagnerians, implying a strong sense of movement and development, the static, colorist, evocative music of Debussy had appeared. The "territory' in which melodic invention could be expressed needed to be shrunk down to a simple 'mode", meaning a predetermined succession of a few sounds which, being only a few, forced a soloist to create true melodies; in other words, to compose and not simply to vary in some more or less repetitive way.
Evans' classical background was crucial to this process. Davis, again in his autobiography, remembers that "Bill brought a great knowledge of classical music, people like Rachmaninov and Ravel," and moreover he recalls that "besides Ravel and a whole lot of others, Bill Evans had turned me on to Aram Khachaturian, a Russian-Armenian composer. I had been listening to him and what intrigued me about him were all those different scales he used." Evans played with Davis regularly from February to November of 1958, a period of which only a few, important recordings are left to testify. Three of these, recorded in May, are especially interesting. In each of these selections (On Green Dolphin Street, Fran-Dance and Stella By Starlight) Evans does some solos that we could call premodal. He simply creates peaceful, wide melodic lines harmonized with two hands, and completely abandons the long hornlike sequences typical of the bop approach. Evans lays down his chords calmly and unhurriedly and leaves them resounding for a long time. Those sonorous silences create a sense of waiting for something that is never going to happen. His choice of notes forming the chords (what is commonly called voicing) is made dissonant by the frequent use of major second intervals, something which has more to do with achieving luminosity than with making the chords harsh.
Evans improvises and admirably harmonizes melodic "micronuclei" that follow a distant trace of the original melody and sound like its echo. Here we have an inner song, a sort of resounding and response to the given melody, sung by no one but seeming as if someone were singing it (hadn't Davis maybe done this shortly before?). So those micronuclei float like water-lilies on Chambers and Cobb's relaxed, swinging ‘walk.’
No one in the history of jazz had ever used the piano in this way before [emphasis, mine]. We could say that in these almost questioning solos he reaches that “expressive inexpressive” that the Franco-Russian philosopher Vladimir Jankelevitch placed among the most enigmatic and seductive aspects of the ineffable in music. A total of about ten recordings remain of that period with Davis. You can hear, especially in the medium tempo tunes, and in the selections where Miles used the mute, that he wanted to adapt the band's sound to Bill's style. You can also hear that Davis absorbed a lot of that calm, that “expressive inexpressive” that Evans was able to infuse his music with - that “quiet fire” that Miles would fall so much in love with.
Evans was one of those pianists that “when they play a chord, play a sound more than a chord” the trumpet player would say, adding “I learned a whole lot of things from Bill Evans. He plays the piano the way it should be played ...” Evans' collaboration with Davis built his reputation. Even though by then he had made only one album under his own name, thanks to his work with Miles Davis he was nominated as Best New Star by the Down Beat magazine critics' poll in 1958 and 1959."
(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 !!!)