Today is International Jazz Day, which you can celebrate with five great jazz performances at the Tiny Desk and a list from Christian McBride — plus a newly unearthed studio recording by a short-lived version of the Bill Evans Trio.
There are two basic structures that inform the majority of performances by the Bill Evans Trio. The first kind are simple vehicles for Evans to build and flesh out his ideas — pretty standard fare for any jazz ensemble. The second kind, the kind that Evans' fame as one of jazz's greatest improvisers and bandleaders is built on, are less like vehicles and more like conversations. This take on "You're Gonna Hear From Me," a hit for crooner Andy Williams in 1966, is an example of just how fervent the trio's conversations could be.
The Bill Evans Trio went through countless lineup changes over Evans' 23 years as a bandleader. This particular configuration, featuring Evans' longtime collaborator Eddie Gomez and future fusion titan Jack DeJohnette, is probably the least known. Though Gomez joined Evans in the fall of 1966 and would stay with him for 11 years, DeJohnette's tenure lasted only a few short months. What they did in that time was previously only documented on the Bill Evans At The Montreux Jazz Festival LP. Recorded during that same period in 1968, Some Other Time: The Lost Session From The Black Forest is a new two-disc set that captures this trio's potency in its only studio appearance.
At times the performance can feel quite spontaneous, as if the musicians came up with every single note on the spot. There's a great deal of truth in that, according to the trio's bassist, Eddie Gomez. "We didn't have too much set-up," Gomez tells NPR. "We were kind of just playing through them. I mean, we hadn't played a lot of these tunes ... we hadn't formulated a real pattern as to how to go about it — who would play first, etc. — so all of it was pretty much off the top of our heads. Which was good, and it made it kind of all the more fun, because we were improvising, totally improvising."
It feels appropriate that the alternate take of "You're Gonna Hear From Me" closes out disc two, considering the first of the disc's 10 tracks is the "primary" take. What's captured between the opening of the primary take and the closing notes of the alternate is the range that this configuration had as it evolved as a unit in the studio. You hear the results of the players continuing to listen to each other. You hear them grow into each other's grooves and begin to communicate on a level that is closer to pure instinct than simple, shared language. Each man puts forth the same level of intensity and musicality with every note, every stroke, to the point where three distinct improvisations merge into a unified whole. It's the sound of true equals.
Some Other Time: The Lost Session From The Black Forest is out now on Resonance.