Bill Evans / Monica Zetterlund

Waltz for Debby

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An oddity in Bill Evans' catalog, this 1964 date places the Swedish jazz vocalist Monica Zetterlund alongside the Evans Trio (with Chuck Israels on bass and Larry Bunker on drums). Still, the match is seemingly perfect. Evans' lyricism is well suited to a breezy, sophisticated songstress like Zetterlund. There is an iciness on this recording, but it is difficult to decipher if it is in the performance or in the engineering where she seems to be way out in front of the band, when she was really in the middle of all the musicians in the studio. This is a minor complaint, however, as the tune selection and decorum of these sessions are quite lovely. From the opener "Come Rain or Come Shine" through the Swedish ballad "A Beautiful Rose" and the achingly gorgeous delivery of "Once Upon a Summertime," it's as if Zetterlund were destined to sing with Evans for a career instead of an album. For his part, Evans is very relaxed, allowing the lyrics to feed his musing on the simple, yet elegant harmonics. The Swedish version of "Waltz for Debbie" is a true delight because Zetterlund's voice becomes another instrument, soloing over the top of Evans' stunning selection of comping chords. In all this is an odd but special item, one that is necessary -- for at least one listen -- by any serious fan of the pianist and composer.

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