Lasting Impressions of Bill Evans


New, impactful live recordings of the late pianist Bill Evans continue to emerge on vinyl.

(Photo: Elemental Music)

Bill Evans’ discography is immense, beginning with his first recordings as a sideman in 1953 and running through hundreds of titles up until his death in 1980. Even now, 41 years later, new, impactful recordings of the legendary pianist continue to emerge on vinyl.

For the first of two Record Store Day drops on June 12 (the second is on July 17), Elemental Music is releasing Behind The Dikes: The 1969 Netherlands Recordings as a three-LP set, mastered at 33⅓ RPM by Bernie Grundman and pressed at Standard Vinyl in Toronto. The album’s title is borrowed from Dutch producer Michiel de Ruyter’s LP series Jazz Behind The Dikes on Philips in the 1950s. De Ruyter served as an original co-producer on these Evans recordings. He is backed here by Eddie Gomez on bass and Marty Morell on drums.

The liner notes to Behind The Dikes highlight that newspaper De Tijd reviewed the 1969 performances enthusiastically: “This is undoubtedly the best combo the 40-year-old master pianist has ever had at his disposal. The three complement each other so beautifully that a remarkably natural musicality emerges, in which the most beautiful things happen.”

This is bourne out by a listen to the discs. The trio can take a standard like “’Round Midnight” and essay it effortlessly, then turn in a lively take on more lighthearted material like “A Sleeping Bee.”

On June 25, Craft Recordings releases another live LP from Evans, a two-LP set titled On A Friday Evening, a newly discovered live performance by Evans featuring Gómez on bass and Eliot Zigmund on drums. The release captures the entire performance.

The previously unreleased concert took place on June 20, 1975, at Oil Can Harry’s, a club that operated until 1977 in Vancouver, British Columbia. The show was captured for Canadian radio host Gary Barclay, who served as the evening’s announcer and later aired the set on his CHQM jazz show. The tapes were restored by Plangent Processes and mastered by Paul Blakemore. Running for just over an hour, the music here is at times quiet and intimate, at others expressive and fresh.

Craft doesn’t stop there with Evans, though. The same day, it’s releasing a five-CD box set exploring the pianist’s entire career called Everybody Still Digs Bill Evans. DB

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May 2024
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