Danish Radio Jazz Orchestra / Jim McNeely

Play Bill Evans

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Bill Evans' compositions have been interpreted in countless ways through the years, but not so often by big bands. Who better than Jim McNeely, a fine pianist and one of jazz's most imaginative arrangers, to glean fresh insights from Evans' music? Leading the fine players of the Danish Radio Jazz Orchestra, McNeely sets his sights on some of Evans' strongest melodies, and he consistently finds new angles. The latent dissonance of "Very Early" is fully apparent when the interval-leaping line is placed over a pedal point, or the final B major 7th chord, for instance. There are other surprising touches, like the half-time tag that breaks up "Waltz for Debby"; the climactic shout choruses (and orchestrated Bill Evans solo) in "Show-Type Tune"; the medley-style juxtaposition of "Twelve-Tone Tune" and "Twelve-Tone Tune Two"; and the jarring burst of a chord that ends "Turn Out the Stars," gradually fading to close out the album. Lead trombonist Vincent Nilsson arranged the one piece not composed by Bill Evans: "Theme for Scotty/Gloria's Step" combines Clare Fischer's requiem for Scott LaFaro with a stormy reading of LaFaro's most famous tune, which remained in Evans' repertoire long after the bassist's untimely death. Tenor saxophonist Tomas Franck, one of the album's more prominent soloists, gives "Blue in Green" an unusually turbulent, quasi-"out" arrangement. Other outstanding performers include bassist Thomas Ovesen and fl├╝gelhornist Henrik Bolberg Pedersen.

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