Bill Evans

Getting Sentimental

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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson

Native New Yorker Mike Harris is neither a professional musician nor a behind the scenes employee of the music industry; he has earned his living as an optical physicist. But he's someone who Bill Evans' hardcore fans should adore. Harris, himself a truly devoted fan, taped numerous Evans appearances at Manhattan's Village Vanguard in the '60s and '70s and asked owner Max Gordon for permission when he first started taping. Originally, Harris didn't mean for any of the recordings to be released commercially; they were strictly for his private collection. But Harris eventually realized that his gold mine needed to be shared with other Evans devotees, and in 1996 (after he went through the proper legal channels), many of those recordings found their way to Milestone/Fantasy's eight-CD, 104-track box set The Secret Sessions. As generous as that release was, Harris still had an abundance of unreleased Evans performances in his Vanguard collection -- and in 2003, some more of them became commercially available on the single-CD Getting Sentimental. While The Secret Sessions spans 1966-1975, this 73-minute disc focuses on one night: January 15, 1978, when Evans was joined by bassist Michael Moore (not to be confused with the liberal filmmaker/political activist or the American reedman who has made waves on the Amsterdam-based creative music scene) and drummer Philly Joe Jones. The sound quality is decent -- not fantastic, but decent -- and Evans' acoustic pianism is consistently solid on familiar material that ranges from "Emily" and "But Beautiful" to his own "Turn Out the Stars." Jones is a definite asset, and even though Moore doesn't enjoy as strong a rapport with Evans as Eddie Gomez and Scott LaFaro had enjoyed, he plays reasonably well. Getting Sentimental isn't essential and isn't recommended to casual listeners; nonetheless, Evans' more obsessive fans will welcome this enjoyable, if imperfect, release with open arms.

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