Bill Evans

Monterey Jazz Festival 75 [Video]

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This DVD sampling portions of the 1975 Monterey Jazz Festival has a lot to offer. Lots of veteran jazz artists in their prime are featured, along with the obligatory diversions into commercial blues, jazz-rock and contemporary jazz. Flugelhornist Clark Terry is a special guest with the Toshiko Akiyoshi-Lew Tabackin Big band in "Hen-Pecked Old Man" (also featuring Tabackin on tenor sax), while Paul Desmond's lyrical, laid-back interpretation of the standard "Emily" (the unseen pianist, who doesn't solo, is John Lewis, a rare opportunity to hear the alto saxophonist in concert with someone other than Dave Brubeck at the keyboard). Bill Evans is in prime form dueting with longtime bassist Eddie Gomez in a spry "Up with the Lark," although the track featuring Dizzy Gillespie is a bit odd. An improvisation is abruptly cut off and a funky blues featuring vibraphonist Cal Tjader as a guest completes the performance. Marian McPartland's touching rendition of her bittersweet ballad "Afterglow" (later retitled "In the Days of Our Love" after vocalist Peggy Lee contributed lyrics) is followed by a fun-filled eight-handed, two piano quartet performance of "Billie's Bounce," featuring Evans and Lewis with McPartland and young pianist Patrice Rushen. Lewis is joined by Hubert Laws, Mundell Lowe, Richard Davis, and violinist Sven Assmussen on the pianist's lively bop vehicle "Lyons Head," thoughAssmussen steals the show with his dissonant Stuff Smith-like solo. Unfortunately, tracks by Chuck Mangione, Blood, Sweat & Tears, Etta James, and Bobby "Blue" Bland never reach the heights of the other performances. Evidently taped for public television, this show is plagued with annoying, overly long voice-overs that frequently intrude on the music, odd editing, and inconsistent camera work, though the rarity of the music makes it worth the investment, warts and all.

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