VOICES Notes and news on Contemporary Jazz releases
20 JAN 12 JONATHAN WIDRAN
Nearly 32 years after his passing, Bill Evans remains an influential force for several generations of jazz pianists-including Chick Corea, who teams with Evans alumni Eddie Gomez (bass) and Paul Motian (drums) to create the fascinating double CD live recording Further Explorations. The multifaceted 19-song set was culled from a series of performances the trio did May 4-17, 2010 at the Blue Note in NYC.
Calling the project that emerged from these sets Further Explorations is a tip of the cap to Evans' original Explorations album, featuring Motian and bassist Scott LaFaro as his first trio, released in 1961. Though Corea is the leader of the current group, Gomez and Motian -- who passed away in November, 2011 -- have more direct connections to the legend. Both performed and recorded with Evans during some of his peak periods. Motian, who first appeared with Evans on New Jazz Conceptions in 1956, left the group in the early-'60s, nearly four years before Gomez would commence an eleven year run with the pianist.
Corea's connection is more spiritual/emotional, like a student studying from a mentor. Over the years, he adapted many of Evans' harmonic concepts and playing techniques. Besides the creative arrangements and expectedly powerful playing, the most remarkable aspect of Further Explorations is the way the trio approaches their muse.
Rather than create a mere tribute, the Evans catalog is a mere starting point, and open door pointing towards new and surprising ventures. Refashioned versions of classic Evans pieces (including songs penned by Irving Berlin and Thelonious Monk) are complemented by thematically relevant original tunes by Corea, Gomez and Motian.