Legendary jazz pianist Bill Evans is most often thought of as a "trio" player, as most of his albums have been piano/bass/drums, with the occasional solo or duo album. But he did record a select few albums with orchestras, and that's what makes SYMBIOSIS a special and unique entry in Evans' hugh catalog. Recorded in 1974, it was released in 1994 on CD for the first time. Further, this albums contains no standards or Evans originals--the title piece is a multi-part suite composed, arranged and conducted by Claus Ogerman (who also collaborated with Stan Getz and Frank Sinatra, among many others).
The album runs the stylistic gamut: there are moments of Philip Glass-like minimalism (!), samba-flavored big-band passages, echoes of the early 20th century Russian composers, Third Stream jazz, lush yet slightly ominous string arrangements and '70s film music. Throughout, Evans, alternating between acoustic and electric pianos, shimmers and entrances with his inventively lyrical solos. Not your "typical" Bill Evans album--but that's what makes SYMBIOSIS such a fine, gently challenging listen.