Bill Evans: Very Early
Bill Evans (piano)
Blue in Green – The Concert in Canada (Milestone MCD-9185-2)
Recorded: Hull, Canada, August 1974
Rating: 97/100 (learn more)
This recording was not released until 11 years after Evans's death. Featuring one of his last trio lineups, it was recorded outdoors on a chilly Canadian late-summer night. Evans had to have a space heater nearby to help keep his hands warm. After the show Evan's expressed frustration that the conditions didn't allow his fingers to quite keep up with his brain. No one in the audience would have noticed.
"Very Early" is perhaps the prettiest jazz song ever composed. The tune is written in waltz time. The opening chord structure is nothing short of brilliant. Brief and subtle low-register runs and lush block chords dominate. The opening strains of this tune, no matter who plays it, remind us of the hopeful innocence of childhood. But to hear the great Bill Evans perform his own composition in his strangely confident yet fragile way is even beyond any hopes and dreams of youth. His playing creates a sentiment so evocative that it seems to encompass your past lives as well. The body of this version is a bit sped-up. Certainly that was an approach Evans, and others who have covered the tune, sometimes took. Still, despite the wonderful improvisational forays, this slightly disturbs the euphoric trance the introduction had put you in. At midpoint Eddie Gomez, Evans's famous sideman for more than a decade, takes bow to bass, playing beautifully. Marty Morell makes extensive use of his brushes for texture's sake. The tempo slows as the gorgeous theme returns. "Very Early" ends very well.
The rating base point of this performance is 100. Ten points are deducted because of the decision to up the tempo. Seven points are returned because of the very real possibility the band played faster to keep warm.
Reviewer: Walter Kolosky