Bill Evans: Very Early '70s


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Bill Evans changed in early 1972. The pianist who had looked like a gaunt accountant in the 1960s sported a mustache by 1971. A year later, his hair was college-campus long. He also sounded different. Instead of playing with poetic patience and lots of space, Evans sounded more agitated in his keyboard attack. This visual and artistic transformation has been attributed to a wide range of factors, from fusion's atmospheric influence to his growing frustration with the pianos he had to play while touring more extensively and his increased use of cocaine. Whatever the reasons, a marked intensity and crankiness had crept into his music.

Two videos give us rare glimpses into this newly emerging Evans, a period hat I've referred to in liner notes as his “percussive poet" phase. The first video features Evans around February 1972 in Paris in front of a live audience, with Eddie Gomez on bass and Marty Morell on drums. It's film that may have been for a French TV show called Jazz Session...

The second video was taped with Gomez and Morell in late June or July 1972. The show was called The Jazz Set and aired on public television in New Jersey. In an interview during the show, Evans refers to his forthcoming Living Time album for Columbia with George Russell. He says that he and Russell had just mixed it. Since the album was recorded in May '72, the time frame here is likely early summer...

Bonus: Here's Blood, Sweat & Tears playing Bill Evans's Time Remembered...

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This story appears courtesy of JazzWax by Marc Myers.
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