Bill Evans / Trio
Undercurrent (Stereo & Mono ) =2LP=w Jim Hall
1 x LP
( 1962 ) - 2018 EU reissue on 180g vinyl 2LPs ( The Stereo & Mono Versions) - Introspective, Almost-Hallucinogenic 1962 Album, a Pinnacle for Both Jazz Icons. Undercurrent is the first of two superb albums recorded by Bill Evans and guitarist Jim Hall in
Release date: 23-11-2018 (originally released in 1962)
2018 EU reissue on 180g vinyl 2LPs ( The Stereo & Mono Versions) - Introspective, Almost-Hallucinogenic 1962 Album, a Pinnacle for Both Jazz Icons. Undercurrent is the first of two superb albums recorded by Bill Evans and guitarist Jim Hall in the duo format over two sessions in April and May of 1962. Arrangements simply for piano and guitar are rare in jazz, and it's even more seldom that the results are truly inspiring and as musically worthwhile as is the case here. Intuitive musical relationships frequently develop over a number of years, but Undercurrent displays the fruits of two musicians who clearly shared an almost immediate understanding.
Both men are also in absolute top form here. Bill Evans was on fire throughout the early and mid-'60s, and after the tragic death of his previous musical partner, virtuoso bass player Scott Le Faro, he was searching for new directions. Enter Jim Hall who is not only a guitarist of tremendous skill and powerful technique, but also a musician with a highly developed rhythmic and harmonic sense that is truly unparalleled.
What is so special about the performances on Undercurrent, however, is the almost telepathic anticipation of where the music is heading, both musicians contribute equally, and there is a constant exchange of ideas, each reacting to the other with apparent ease, whatever the mood. All in all, Undercurrent is a brilliant jazz offering of great depth and tremendous atmosphere from two of the genre's best.
A1 My Funny Valentine
A2 I Hear A Phapsody
A3 Dream Gypsy
B2 Skating In Central Park
B3 Darn That Dream
B4 I’m Getting Sentimental Over You *
C1 My Funny Valentine
C2 I Hear A Phapsody
C3 Dream Gypsy
D2 Skating In Central Park
D3 Darn That Dream
Bill Evans catapulted to the top of the jazz world in June 1961 after reeling off three straight masterpiece sessions at New York's Village Vanguard with his trio. Yet the emotional highs came to a screeching halt shortly thereafter when bassist Scott LaFaro died in a car accident. Devastated, Evans refrained from playing for nearly a year. If not for an inspirational collaboration of tremendous creative outpouring, one wonders what fate may have befallen Evans. Undercurrent, the outcome of two studio sessions with guitarist Jim Hall, is that project.
Two jazz giants' sonic communion, a kind of spiritual musical summit on which Evans' deft keyboard touches and Hall's reliably subtle phrasings seamlessly mesh and wonderfully dance, the compositions streaked with natural instrumental decay, full-frequency extensions, and poignant emotionalism that, on this LP, you can feel.
While Evans managed to sit down for a few one-off takes between LaFaro's passing and these April-May 1962 dates, he largely remained on hiatus and abstained from recording. Whether it owes to the intimate pairing, he and Hall's brotherly chemistry, or the exquisite selection of program material, the results consistently come across as the equivalent of a private meditation - such is the level of introspective depth and quietly shaded interplay throughout. For Evans, the duet clearly functions as therapy, a healing episode in which his partner patiently lays back, shadowing moves and suggesting others, neither musician interested in the spotlight but each striving for (and achieving) transcendent beauty.
In tackling standards such as Rodgers and Hart's "My Funny Valentine" and the Broadway classic "Darn That Dream," as well as the Hall original "Romain," the pair traverses complex harmonies with the astute elegance of a figure skater. At times, Evans and Hall go for broke on a hard-swinging romps, yet it's their implied melancholy and drifting, softly struck melodic refrains on waltzes and ballads that bestows Undercurrent with a nuanced romanticism and whispered atmosphere befitting the record's title.
Indeed, even the album's cover - an iconic photograph by Toni Frissell - exhibits the surreal, almost-hallucinogenic properties of the fare contained within.
Originally released: 1962
This release: 2015