Bill Evans

Interplay

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Interplay stands as some of Bill Evans' most enigmatic and unusual music in makeup as well as execution. It was recorded in July 1962 with a very young Freddie Hubbard from the Jazz Messengers, guitarist Jim Hall, bassist Percy Heath, and drummer Philly Joe Jones performing five veteran standards. Evans has a more blues-based approach to playing: harder, edgier, and in full flow, fueled in no small part by Hall, who is at his very best here, swinging hard whether it be a ballad or an uptempo number. Hubbard's playing, on the other hand, was never so restrained as it was here. Using a mute most of the time, his lyricism is revealed to jazz listeners for the first time -- with Art Blakey it was a blistering attack of hard bop aggression. On this program of standards, however, Hubbard slips into them quite naturally without the burden of history -- check his reading and improvisation on "When You Wish Upon a Star." Ironically, it's on the sole original, the title track, where the band in all its restrained, swinging power can be best heard, though the rest is striking finger-popping hard bop jazz, with stellar crystalline beauty in the ballads.

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