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Heartbreak & Moon Beams

11 JUN 12 CHRIS SLAWECKI

In 1962, Bill Evans went into the studio for Riverside Records to record the first sessions with his new trio. These were no small steps for the pianist. He had the same drummer (Paul Motian) but a new bassist -- Chuck Israels picked up for Scott LeFaro, whose tragic death in a traffic accident the previous year had deeply shaken Evans. Now part of the Original Jazz Classics Remasters series, Moon Beams, the compiled ballads from these sessions, presents the somber and ethereal sound of Bill Evans knitting his heart back together.

Moon Beams was Evans' first all-ballad album, and this OJC remaster is so vibrant that you can almost hear the musicians breathe. Evans spoons out "I Fall In Love Too Easily" in languid mouthfuls, losing his piano in the reflections of his mind, and "In Love In Vain" gently turns heartache into beauty.

The interplay between drummer and pianist was in no way diminished by their bassist's passing. In "Re: Person I Knew" (Evans' tribute anagram for producer Orrin Keepnews), Motian's supple brushwork intertwines with Evans' rippling rhythms, and their dialogue in both takes of the jumpy "Very Early" sounds telepathic. For "If You Could See Me Now," Motian's cymbals envelop Evans' piano in a shimmering whisper.

You can also hear through these Moon Beams consolidated scraps of Evans' influence on the ballad styles of Vince Guaraldi, Herbie Hancock and other pianists. Riverside released the remaining tunes from these sessions on How My Heart Sings (OJC, 1989).