Bill Evans

His Last Concert in Germany

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Lest any unwitting soul be misled, this ten-song session from an August 15, 1980, date in Bad Honningen is not, in fact, Bill Evans' last concert recording, despite what the liner notes claim. That historic footnote would be left to San Francisco's Keystone Korner where the Evans/Marc Johnson/Joe Labarbera trio represented here would complete an eight-night stand less than a month later, a mere week before Evans' death.

Morbid historical reflections aside, there is an overt quality in much of this performance that, compounded by the frequently shrill quality of the recording itself, betrays a lack of cohesiveness verging on the unkempt.

Regardless, even on his less stellar outings Evans still manages to search for catharsis where most mortal pianists fear to tread -- in this case sacrificing introspection for clamor, wrapping himself up Houdini-like in angular cadences of sound before bursting out and almost threatening to become unhinged from his accompaniment.

Although categorizing any Bill Evans set as dispensable carries with it a hint of blasphemy, given the abundance of commercially legitimate, sonically superior recordings available, any time invested searching for this one would probably be better spent elsewhere.

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