Bill Evans / Monica Zetterlund

Bill Evans & Monica Zetterlund

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Bill Evans' career in live settings is well documented with numerous commercial recordings in addition to various broadcasts and unauthorized tapings that have been issued. This 1975 set in Sweden is unique as it is one of his rare outings accompanying a vocalist in concert, Swedish singer Monica Zetterlund, who sits in with him for the latter half of this show. The first half features four numbers by his trio with bassist Eddie Gomez and drummer Eliot Zigmund, kicking off with a tantalizing version of "Sugar Plum" that features Evans' understated lines and Gomez's sublime bass, accompanied by Zigmund's whispering brushes. Composer Earl Zindars' "Sareen Jurer" was a staple in Evans' mid-'70s repertoire, a buoyant, breezy work that the pianist made his own with his light-hearted interpretation. The remaining two works come from the beginning of his career. Evans' "Very Early" was a staple on live dates from the days of his first trio, the tempo is more relaxed on this version, though the trio's energy level is intense. Scott LaFaro's demanding "Gloria's Step" remained a part of Evans' live sets long after its composer's sudden death in 1961, this driving version wraps the trio portion of the program.

Evans had accompanied Zetterlund on one of her early recordings, but it is surprising to hear their reunion on a club date, since he rarely played with a vocalist in front of an audience. The Swedish vocalist has long been underrated, in spite of her impressive recordings with the pianist and the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra, among others. She is an understated singer, yet true to each song, beginning with an intimate "Come Rain or Come Shine." Evans' inventive backing for her in "What's New" is a highlight, along with the playful, upbeat "It Could Happen to You." Zetterlund reaches her emotional peak with her striking take of Michel Legrand's "Once Upon a Summertime." Fans of Bill Evans are generally interested in nearly everything available and the rare opportunity to hear him with a vocalist in concert is tempting. There is one caveat: there is a little distortion in the piano, particularly during the latter half of the show.

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