When it comes to piano trio jazz, the late Bill Evans ushered in more than his share of innovations. Breaking free of the merely rhythmic function that bass and drums had traditionally provided to such an ensemble, Evans strived for a three-way conversation with his peers, while each instrument still maintained its own sense of autonomy. Recorded just weeks prior to Evans’ death in September of 1980, Consecration
is an eight-disc boxed set that documents a week’s run at San Francisco’s Keystone Korner and presents the last final recorded notes from the gig. Although this material had been previously made available in Japan, this Fantasy version marks the first stateside appearance of the set.
It’s interesting to hear how little Evans’ core stylistic nuances had changed over the years. In fact, like his other quintessential live performances from the past (the Village Vanguard, Montreux, etc.), there’s a sense of melancholy and a predominance of ballad tempos that find Evans practically draining each piece of all melodic and rhythmic possibilities. Tin Pan Alley standards are still at the heart of each set, with "Like Someone In Love," "My Romance," "Emily," and "Polka Dots and Moonbeams" given multiple performances. Slightly less common are a few versions of Paul Simon’s "I Do It For Your Love" and a new Evans original "Knit For Mary F."
Aided by a recorded balance that puts the trio up front, yet maintains the club’s ambiance, bassist Marc Johnson and drummer Joe LaBarbera constitute two thirds of one of Evans’ strongest trios and the consistency they display on 68 performances of 24 different tunes clearly is of the highest order. Still, in looking at just the five different versions of "Re: Person I Knew" there’s a sense of consistency in length and general mood that borders on redundancy. Maybe not the best place for the neophyte to begin a discovery, Evans fanatics will nonetheless want to hear every note.