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Bill Evans - Tales: Live in Copenhagen (1964) (Elemental)

22 November 2023

Elemental Records and “jazz detective” Zev Feldman have had a fruitful collaboration for over a decade, unearthing scads of previously unreleased performances by late jazz piano genius Bill Evans and focusing on his work in Europe. _Tales: Live in Copenhagen* (released this week on vinyl for Record Store Day, and in December on CD) presents Evans’ first recorded work on that continent. Taken from two separate dates in August 1964 (plus a bonus track recorded in 1969), these tracks capture the early sixties Bill Evans Trio at its most synchronous. Bassist Chuck Israels (who replaced late original bassist Scott LaFaro) and drummer Larry Bunker clearly walk the same wavelength as their leader, keying in on his rhythmic shifts and melody-first virtuosity like they were born to it. Check out “Sweet and Lovely,” a high energy, drum solo-infused take on a standard that sounds like it was a rollicking good time for all concerned. Or roll with “How My Heart Sings,” on which Israels rips an exceptional solo without ever outshining his boss. Or absorb the second version of the Evans original “Five,” which features the trio’s interplay at its dazzling best. Or simply luxuriate in both takes on “My Foolish Heart,” an Evans favorite that sounds like it was written solely for him. Most of these are tunes that were common in Evans’ repertoire, but his skill as both improviser and bandleader keeps them fresh, no matter how many records on which they appear.