Bill Evans: Eiderdown




Bill Evans (piano)


Crosscurrents (Original Jazz Classics 718)

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Bill Evans (piano), Lee Konitz (alto sax), Warne Marsh (tenor sax),

Eddie Gomez (bass), Eliot Zigmund (drums)


Composed by Steve Swallow


Recorded: Berkeley, CA, February 28, March 1-2, 1977


Rating: 92/100 (learn more)

Crosscurrents was the first recording of Evans with Konitz and Marsh to be released, but only because their outstanding encounter in 1959 (Live at the Half Note under Konitz's name) did not see the light of day until 1994. "Eiderdown" is the longest and arguably the best track from the 1977 session. Steve Swallow's captivating tune (his first composition!) has always inspired top-flight improvisation, and that is certainly the case here.

There's no real interplay between Konitz and Marsh during this version, except to play the theme, which for some reason they perform in a surprisingly rough unison, their horns' blend just not very pleasing to the ear, despite Evans's sleek comping. Evans solos first, his flowing lines and apt left-hand figures totally in touch with the tune's melodic and harmonic nuances. Marsh follows with interesting ideas and typically unpredictable twists and turns in his extended runs, all enhanced by an imaginatively varied rhythmic attack. He also cleverly inserts a quote from "You and the Night and the Music" that works perfectly. After a brief but substantial statement by Gomez, Konitz delivers an absorbing solo that offers an intriguing contrast to the one by Marsh. Konitz seems less hurried, his phrases more spaced out, and his delivery not nearly as legato. The reprise of the theme is, unfortunately, played just as coarsely as in its initial reading, although Evans mercifully takes the bridge this time around.

Reviewer: Scott Albin

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