The Howard Alden Trio

Your Story: The Music of Bill Evans

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There seem to be a flurry of pianoless CD tributes to the late pianist Bill Evans in the mid-1990s, by far the most successful is this release by the extraordinary guitarist Howard Alden. He waited until he started playing a seven string guitar to fully explore Evans' rich and often difficult melodies, as he was then able to keep them in their original keys while being able to round out the original harmonies by playing the low notes himself on the extra string. Of course, it doesn't hurt him to have the talented bassist Michael Moore (who worked for a time in Evans' trio) and drummer Al Harewood on hand. Another thing that make this CD stand out from similar efforts is Alden's willingness to concentrate on the less familiar works by the pianist. The constantly shifting "Tune for a Lyric" and "Discplacement" are challenges that he seems to meet effortlessly, while the Latin setting of "Time Remembered" adds the ethereal flute of Frank Wess, and the foot patting bluesy "Loose Blues," with Wess on tenor sax, will compare favorably to Evans' original recording with Zoot Sims. Alden also includes several works written near the end of the pianist's career. "Laurie" is a lush blend of Alden's soft guitar and Wess' romantic tenor, while "Maxine" begins with the leader's unaccompanied solo before switching to a waltz-like setting featuring some of Moore's typically brilliant playing. There isn't a track on this CD by Howard Alden that is less than excellent. Highly recommended.

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