Bill Evans (sax): Summertime
Bill Evans (sax)
Summertime (Jazz City Bellaphon 660-53-018)
Composed by George Gershwin & DuBose Heyward.
Recorded: New York, February 1989
Rating: 90/100 (learn more)
Summertime is a collection of six of Bill Evans (sax) jazz-rock original compositions and five jazz standards. Among the latter is "Summertime." In another Jazz.com review of Evans (sax), I suggested that the best fusion jazz players have the ability, knowledge and reverence to play from the jazz standard repertoire. Another trait should be added. They desire to play this music. In this case, we have four accomplished fusion players tackling "Summertime" and some other jazz classics. They do it because they want to. It doesn't matter to them if they drop a Golden Oldie in the middle of a fusion stew or that a less than familiar audience may applaud more quietly. The standards are part of their heritage. This gorgeous interpretation of the sad ballad is as valid as any produced by the contemporary jazz stars you would most expect to perform it.
"Summertime" is a showcase for Evans (sax). He reaches deep down to cajole every ounce of emotion from his horn as Goldstein, Loeb, Gottlieb and Johnson provide solid support. At one point, that support comes in the form of them playing changes reminiscent of those from "Red Clay." This is not quite the way we are used to hearing this song. But isn't that why we listen to jazz – to hear unexpected interpretations? And yes, surprises occur in the playing of standards all the time. There is no such thing as a standard deviation. The categorization of musicians or music is a necessary evil to help describe the state of things. But players like these and music like this would fit into any era and always will.
Reviewer: Walter Kolosky