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Crosscurrents by Bill Evans Trio with Lee Konitz / Warne Marsh

Throughout most of his illustrious career, piano ace Bill Evans (1929-1980) -- who influenced many, many artists, from Miles Davis to Bill Charlap and Donald Fagen (Steely Dan) -- stuck to the trio format, which makes this 1977 album all-the-more remarkable. His working/regular trio was joined in the studio with simpatico cool-cat sax legends Lee Konitz and Warne Marsh (both of whom Evans played with circa '59). Crosscurrents is full of Evans' patented delicate (but never fragile) Impressionist- and mod-Russian-flavored lyricism and unaffected swing, of course, but perhaps because of the sax guests, his style is perhaps a tad punchier, more hard-bop-ish. Konitz and Marsh are two incredible variations of the Cool Concept, descended from on high by Saint Lester (Young): both have imperturbable reserve and sleek, lean, vibrato-free tone; if they were singers, they'd be Sinatra (Konitz) and Dean Martin (Marsh). Konitz has the control and shading of a master vocalist, who can sing "sweetly" and tenderly yet totally non-gooey; Marsh has a deeper, heartier, slightly more rollicking "croon," sounding natural and effortless. And LISTEN to the swirling swing and baroque inventions of the sax duet opening "Night and Day." One improvement over the vinyl edition is the inclusion of three alternate takes. Except for Steve Swallow's exquisite "Eiderdown, the program is compositionally on the "tame" side ("Speak Low," "Night & Day," "When I Fall In Love" -- gorgeous songs all, but not exactly "under-recorded" in the jazz canon; as Konitz and especially Evans are themselves fine composers, a couple o' originals would've been nice) but in the best jazz tradition, these hepcats do such a thorough and pleasurable job of reinvention that only someone more cynical than I (and that is going some) would find fault. Needless to say: highly, very highly recommended to any serious jazz fan. [PS: why review this now~? Because August 16 would've been Bill Evans' birthday & I, alas, did not get to writing this last month...better late than never, says the procrastinator. Wherever you are, hoist a cold one to Bill's memory.]

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Bill Evans Trio with Lee Konitz / Warne Marsh
  • CD Title: Crosscurrents
  • Genre: Straight-Ahead / Classic
  • Year Released: 1992
  • Reissue Original Release: 1978
  • Record Label: Fantasy
  • Musicians: Evans: piano; Eddie Gomez: bass; Eliot Zigmund: drums; Lee Konitz: alto sax; Warne Marsh: tenor sax. Recorded Feb & Mar 1977, Berkeley, CA.
  • Rating: Five Stars
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