Mitchel Forman: Very Early
Mitchel Forman (piano)
Now and Then – A Tribute to Bill Evans (Novus 63165-2)
Composed by Bill Evans.
Recorded: December 1992
Rating: 90/100 (learn more)
It's no secret that I consider Mitchel Forman one of the most underrated jazz pianists of the last 25 years. He has spent formative time playing with John McLaughlin, Wayne Shorter and other important artists. But his true musical worth is best found in his projects as leader. He is an extremely gifted technician, a wonderful composer and possesses a musical mind that produces some of the most interesting improvisation I have ever heard. He is also well aware of his influences and finds time to honor them.
Forman takes Bill Evans's lovely waltz "Very Early" on an aggressive jaunt. His block chords develop a substantive theme that leads to a swing approach of a tune that Evans most often played as almost a fragile lullaby. Importantly, Forman is joined by bassist Eddie Gomez and drummer Jack DeJohnette, both pivotal players in Evans's trios. This trio attacks the piece with an energy that connotes their true respect for Evans. They are putting out. At one point, Forman and the band do tone things down a bit to play with some of that fragility I mentioned earlier. But they quickly return to the faster tempo. I suppose these three could have played "Very Early" much in Evans's style. But what would be the point of mimicry? A better tribute is to take the man's tune and create from it. This they have done.
Reviewer: Walter Kolosky