Bill Evans

We Will Meet Again - The Bill Evans Anthology: The Warner Bros. & Elektra Years 1977-1980

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After leaving a long relationship with Fantasy, Bill Evans signed with Warner Bros. in 1977, a label with which he remained until his death. The two-dozen tracks culled from his five releases for the label make up a reasonable sampling for someone who doesn't want to invest in all of them. Evans went through great personal trials during this period, including the suicides of his former girlfriend and older brother, the departure of his longtime bassist Eddie Gomez, and his continuous battle with drugs that contributed to his premature death in 1980. Yet the music within this collection finds him in great form. The first 14 selections come from the pianist's four studio recordings for Warner Bros.. Highlights from You Must Believe in Spring (an album that remained unreleased for nearly four years, finally appearing after Evans' death) include Jimmy Rowles' haunting ballad "The Peacocks" and Gary McFarland's melancholy "Gary's Theme" (probably played with even more emotion due to Evans' mourning the death of its composer after he was poisoned in a bar). From the solo/duo/trio piano disc New Conversations come his lush, overdubbed piano duet of Cy Coleman's "I Love My Wife" and glistening solo interpretation of Duke Ellington's "Reflections in D." The meetings with harmonica player Toots Thielemans and saxophonist Larry Schneider (heard on Affinity) are represented by three songs, with the warm rendition of "Blue in Green" (which remains mislabeled "Blue and Green" on yet another reissue) standing out. Finally, a meeting with Schneider and trumpeter Tom Harrell on We Will Meet Again found Evans offering a swinging new interpretation of his nearly two-decade old work "Peri's Scope" and the moving title track, played as a piano solo in tribute to his late brother Harry Evans. Having to pick just ten performances from the 58 collected in the limited-edition boxed set Turn Out the Stars: The Final Village Vanguard Recordings was a tough call, as there were strong tracks to choose from. Obviously, it made sense to concentrate on songs not heard on Evans' live albums for other labels and also to emphasize compositions that he premiered late in his career after signing with Warner Bros.. The heartfelt ballad "Letter to Evan," dedicated to his young son, is especially moving, while it is hard to top the exciting extended workout of Miles Davis' landmark modal composition "Nardis," which features the pianist's abstract solo and extended time in the spotlight for bassist Marc Johnson and drummer Joe La Barbera. For Bill Evans collectors on a budget, this anthology is an excellent, well-rounded option.

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