Bill Evans: Spring Is Here


Spring Is Here


Bill Evans (piano)


Portrait In Jazz (Riverside 1162)

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Bill Evans (piano), Scott LaFaro (bass), Paul Motian (drums).

Composed by Richard Rodgers & Lorenz Hart


Recorded: New York, December 28, 1959


Rating: 100/100 (learn more)

A romantic nature is implied in this trio's sensitivity, even as everything about "Spring Is Here" points to an obvious willingness to try something new. Chords are either flattened or sharpened amidst plentiful substitutions. Seated on the outskirts of the measures, though, Evans's lengthy passages knock on the border doors but never step through them. The magic is in what is done with the chords, not in what has been written specifically for the chart, and Evans's phrasing adds a new palette to what, without it, could easily have been the world's most conventional jazz recording. Many times, improvisers are weighed down by a false sense of necessary aggression, but here Evans is expressive yet fiery in a subdued way. As the spring evoked by the track is one of frost thawing and the first signs of grass, his circular, swerving piano work befits the season. Free time is suspended in air, reined in by a swinging, tight rhythm section.

This performance of "Spring Is Here," recorded ironically in the winter of 1959, sounds exactly like what Kind of Blue would have without horns. Indeed, Portrait In Jazz, which also includes a trio version of "Blue In Green," can be considered an extension of Miles Davis's classic disc, recorded during the actual spring of that same year.

Reviewer: Marcus Singletary

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