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ghost of miles

"Very Early: Bill Evans, 1956-58"

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This week's Night Lights show, which explores Bill Evans' early recordings (almost exclusively as a sideman), is now posted for online listening. Featuring the music of Charles Mingus, Hal McKusick, Tony Scott, George Russell and others, it shows Evans' playing in a different light from the later style for which he'd gain fame:

 

Very Early: Bill Evans, 1956-58

Edited by ghost of miles

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For really early Bill Evans, you may want to check out this CD: Very Early, Vol.1: 1943-1949 (don't know if this release has been discussed here before). I haven't gotten it myself yet, but it looks intriguing. Among other things one can hear him play boogie woogie and he was apparently at some point called Willie "Fingers" Evans!

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That is very early...thanks for the tip, Swinging Swede, wasn't aware of that release.

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For really early Bill Evans, you may want to check out this CD: Very Early, Vol.1: 1943-1949 (don't know if this release has been discussed here before). I haven't gotten it myself yet, but it looks intriguing. Among other things one can hear him play boogie woogie and he was apparently at some point called Willie "Fingers" Evans!

This CD and a second release 'Bill Evans Practice Tape no. 1' was put out by Bill's son Evan Evans.

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For Bill Evans fanatics only. Not that they're bad, there are pretty good moments but it's all early stuff and I am not sure the artist would have approved his son's decision to put out these private tapes.

Harvey Pekar's review of the initial E3 release.

No idea if there were other CDs in this series (Pekar mentions five but I am not sure more came out.

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I don't think Evan ever released anything of his father's work after the second CD, though I bet there is more remaining. He ought to start issuing the various illegitimate broadcast recordings of his father, a la Frank Zappa's Beat The Boots! boxed sets.

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Another great show, David! Hopefully Larry and Jim will listen to both this show and your upcoming show on Miles and Bill, and repent for their sins regarding the great BILL EVANS!:g

Well, maybe Larry, I think after his last posts, JS is pretty much beyond redemption concerning Evans...:lol:

It should be noted that George Russell thought so highly of Bill that he transcribed Bill's solo in "All About Rosie", and included it in the published score of All About Rosie, probably the first time that was ever done, Russell even made a note of it in the score I studied.

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Hey, I like early Evans -- indeed just about all Evans through the Lafaro/Motion trio. BTW, an early Evans outing I love is his playing on Eddie Costa's "Guys and Dolls Like Vibes"(was that the title or was it "...Likes Jazz"?) Costa plays great on it too.

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2 hours ago, sgcim said:

Well, maybe Larry, I think after his last posts, JS is pretty much beyond redemption concerning Evans...:lol:

I accept my fate, then. I had a talk with god today, and he pointed out that by 1959, Paul bley had already played with Ornette and had been married to Carla AND had started warping time with Jimmy Giuffre..

Kind Of blue? Kinda wow, Charlie? and ok, by the time of that irritating as fuck Trio '65 record, had done the whole Jazz composers Guild thing, had had Albert Ayler in his face, and made a record with John Gilmore. And they call it...

I think I know who made better use of their time and mine.

although, yeah, up to a point he (evans) was an in thing afaic. Put me down with Larry on that part, there was a while where he brought something to the table other than lace napkins and vomit in the potted plants. But that didn't last very long, really, relatively.

He had his chance, and blew it. I'm done trying, or discussing. He'd dead, I'm not, and there's plenty of other musics I've yet to hear and/or process more fully than this guy.

One of these days (and it won't be long...)

Time's a'wastin'!

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4 hours ago, Larry Kart said:

Hey, I like early Evans -- indeed just about all Evans through the Lafaro/Motion trio. BTW, an early Evans outing I love is his playing on Eddie Costa's "Guys and Dolls Like Vibes"(was that the title or was it "...Likes Jazz"?) Costa plays great on it too.

Yes, the cut that David played on his show from Guys and Dolls Like Vibes (If I Were a Bell) had a great Bill solo on it. Eddie's vibes solo was weird; he kept playing the same riff over and over so loud that I couldn't even hear the changes under it.

Evans did undergo a significant change in his playing, and I prefer the earlier playing to some of his later playing, but the sheer volume of recorded Evans makes it hard to draw a fine line between the two periods.It almost seems like his playing as a sideman with people like George Russell, Oliver Nelson, Cannonball Adderly, and the groups with Freddie Hubbard, Zoot Sims, Jim Hall, Hal McKusick, Art Farmer, etc... brought out that first style of playing.

His son believes that he was aiming for a different type of music, that was an improvised type of classical/jazz music, but superior to both of them!

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Truth be told, I can't think of an early Evans recording that was less than very good -- though I can't take the Tony Scott stuff because I can't take Scott and because IIRC much of that stuff has a shaggy/sloppy feel that works against Evans. BTW, to bring up Sngry's complaint about how Evans' left-hand voicings got all scrunched up and pounded out (I hear that too and agree with Jim, though I still can listen for other things amidst that compulsive barrage); when I returned yesterday to a few cuts from "Guys and Dolls Like Vibes" I was struck by the complete absence in  Evans' playing of that, to Jim and me, annoying trait. In "early" days, Evans' sense of keyboard layout was strikingly lucid (if that's the right word), as much so as Teddy Wilson's.

Speaking of Tony Scott, in the heyday of the Jazz Review, bassist Bill Crow wrote an absolutely scathing review of a Scott album -- not only zeroing in on Scott's more annoying musical traits but also attacking in some  detail Scott's often fairly egomaniacal behavior on the stand and in the studio. (The review can be found online among the archived issues of the Jazz Review.) In any case, in the next or the next plus one issue of the JR, there's a letter from Evans that comes (I would say, tries to come) vigorously to Scott's defense. I say "tries to come" because while of course I can't read Evans ' mind, when I read that letter at the time  the tone of it seemed a tense and bit unconvincing, like it was payback for all the early gigs that Scott gave Bill.

BTW, speaking of that "Trio '65" album, Bill Kirchner, who interviewed the surviving particpoiants for his notes for the The Complete Evans on Verve box, said that Peacock and Motion hated that album and said that Evans did too -- in part because Creed Taylor was on Evans' ass throughout the date for some reason.

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5 hours ago, Larry Kart said:

Truth be told, I can't think of an early Evans recording that was less than very good -- though I can't take the Tony Scott stuff because I can't take Scott and because IIRC much of that stuff has a shaggy/sloppy feel that works against Evans. BTW, to bring up Sngry's complaint about how Evans' left-hand voicings got all scrunched up and pounded out (I hear that too and agree with Jim, though I still can listen for other things amidst that compulsive barrage); when I returned yesterday to a few cuts from "Guys and Dolls Like Vibes" I was struck by the complete absence in  Evans' playing of that, to Jim and me, annoying trait. In "early" days, Evans' sense of keyboard layout was strikingly lucid (if that's the right word), as much so as Teddy Wilson's.

Speaking of Tony Scott, in the heyday of the Jazz Review, bassist Bill Crow wrote an absolutely scathing review of a Scott album -- not only zeroing in on Scott's more annoying musical traits but also attacking in some  detail Scott's often fairly egomaniacal behavior on the stand and in the studio. (The review can be found online among the archived issues of the Jazz Review.) In any case, in the next or the next plus one issue of the JR, there's a letter from Evans that comes (I would say, tries to come) vigorously to Scott's defense. I say "tries to come" because while of course I can't read Evans ' mind, when I read that letter at the time  the tone of it seemed a tense and bit unconvincing, like it was payback for all the early gigs that Scott gave Bill.

BTW, speaking of that "Trio '65" album, Bill Kirchner, who interviewed the surviving particpoiants for his notes for the The Complete Evans on Verve box, said that Peacock and Motion hated that album and said that Evans did too -- in part because Creed Taylor was on Evans' ass throughout the date for some reason.

 

You can pretty much tell where Creed Taylor was at by reading Mel Lewis' autobiography "The View From the Back of the Band".

I mentioned the story with him defending a drunk, abusive Stan Getz during the recording session for the Getz album "Relaxin;" in my review of the book, so I won't go into that, but Mel first went to Creed when he wanted to find a record company for the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Big Band.

Creed said, "It's great, but I don't want anything to do with it." He then went on with words to the effect that nobody wanted to hear a big band with long solos, complex arrangements, etc... I can imagine what Creed put Bill Evans through on the "Trio '65" album. Evans was strongly anti-commercial in his feelings about jazz. Time and again, you can read interviews he did in the 60s about jazz musicians selling out by playing jazz mixed with rock music, and on more than one occasion said he was very disappointed with Miles Davis' fusion direction, and wanted to speak to Miles about that. I could imagine what that would've been like!:lol:

Scott's playing was very disappointing on those albums with Evans, and I much prefer his playing on the quartet he had with Dick Katz, and his playing on "Both Sides of Tony Scott, with the great Dick Garcia on one side, and the comparatively weak soloing of Mundell Lowe on the other side. Both records are free of the hysterics Scott sometimes got into in the high register, and other 'flag-waving' techniques which marred his playing.

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I'll ask Kirchner about it, but when you've got Evans, Motion, and Gary Peacock (of all people!) and Motion in the studio, what imaginable commercial direction could you have wanted them to take? Choice of material perhaps, but surely not how to play it? Peacock would have bounced his double bass off of Creed's noggin.

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Bill Kirchner responds: "It wasn’t Trio ’65, it was Trio ’64, with Peacock and Motian.  Both reported (in a panel discussion of Evans sidemen I moderated for the booklet for the Verve 18-CD Evans box) that Taylor was an intrusive pain in the ass telling them how to play.  This was a working group, mind you, so getting acceptable takes should have been easy.  They said that eventually, they just “wanted to get the fuck out of there.”  Too bad—that group no doubt was capable of a far more memorable album.

I’ve heard mixed reports over the years about Taylor.  Despite his undeniable successes, at his worst he seems to have been something of a control freak.  Mel Lewis, for example, 
told me that Taylor wanted him to come in after the Pure Desmond date and overdub a substitute drum part for Connie Kay’s.  Mel declined, and eventually the idea was abandoned
because of potential leakage problems.

 

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Hey, Creed Taylor sold records until he didn't. but while he did, that was his call, right or wrong. It's not Mel Lewis who was selling those records.

Just sayin'...art vs commerce, eternally.

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36 minutes ago, JSngry said:

Hey, Creed Taylor sold records until he didn't. but while he did, that was his call, right or wrong. It's not Mel Lewis who was selling those records.

Just sayin'...art vs commerce, eternally.

F**k Creed Taylor! Let's hear it for Herman Lubinsky!

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12 hours ago, JSngry said:

Hey, Creed Taylor sold records until he didn't. but while he did, that was his call, right or wrong. It's not Mel Lewis who was selling those records.

Just sayin'...art vs commerce, eternally.

Mel Lewis sold Mel Lewis' records; Creed Taylor sold Stan Getz's. It's not wholly art vs. commerce but more who had a running head start. Also, Mel's records sold in many respects because of things he did musically, conceptually, and organizationally; Creed was riding on the backs of others. Tell me the name of a musically important best-selling album or two where Creed's "call" made the big difference. Not saying there aren't some, but none come to mind. Well, Creed did go along with Stan Getz's insistence that Astrud Gilberto not be paid more than the session fee for singing "The Girl from Ipanema." Big plus there.

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14 minutes ago, Larry Kart said:

Mel Lewis sold Mel Lewis' records; Creed Taylor sold Stan Getz's. It's not wholly art vs. commerce but more who had a running head start. Also, Mel's records sold in many respects because of things he did musically, conceptually, and organizationally; Creed was riding on the backs of others. Tell me the name of a musically important best-selling album or two where Creed's "call" made the big difference. Not saying there aren't some, but none come to mind. Well, Creed did go along with Stan Getz's insistence that Astrud Gilberto not be paid more than the session fee for singing "The Girl from Ipanema." Big plus there.

Well, hell, who else would have made Sunflower, Salt Song, Road Song, any number of commercially successful and musically solid records? Who else had that game figured out? nobody, really because it was his game (cf. OV Wright "Ace Of Spades")

"Riding on the backs of others"? Dude - that's pretty much what a producer does, even the best ones. ESPECIALLY the best ones.

Also - Sonny Lester sold a BUNCH of "Mel Lewis records", probably more than anybody else. Mel Lewis sold Mel Lewis' music, but Sonny Lester sold those records of that music.

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How many of the Mel Lewis records that Sonny Lester sold were sold because of the efforts and "calls' of Sonny Lester? Financial backing, sure, but that could have been a lot of people. Sure, producers "ride on the backs of others"; how could it be otherwise? But you were talking about Creed's meaningful "calls." Versus Alfred Lion's? George Avakian's?  Milt Gabler's? Or even, knowing full well what a jerk and a blowhard he was, John Hammond's? The list could go on. And what of Chuck Nessa, who is an different category but who has done more for the music than Creed could ever imagine. 

The CT albums you mention above were commercial successfully and musically solid but in the over all scheme of things -- meh . . . or meaningful only within the context of that squishy fraught time for the music and, if you will, in terms of Wes Montgomery's financial well-being  (assuming the cash for his albums was distributed to him in an equitable fashion before his death). That is not nothing but not something that alters the course of the music, as the Jones-Lewis outfit arguably did to some degree and in a more e or less lasting manner. I think that the  fact and continuing legacy of Thad's writing, and the fact that such a band has been viable as long as it has been, probably matters more in the overall scheme of things than Sunflower, Salt Song, Road Song, and the rest of Creed's legacy.  What next? Erect a statue of Clive Davis?

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Ok, so we don't like Creed Taylor for whatever reasons. Still, he sold records until he didn't. And as long as he did - and yes, he did, he made the records according to what kind of records he wanted them to be, and they did sell - he was making those calls.

Just as Blue Note records reflected the Lion/Wolff sensibility, so did Creed Taylor's reflect his (once he found it, which was certainly no later than the middle 60s. Alfred Lion certainly did influence what did and didn't go on his records and he controlled how they sounded and looked as well.

To the extent that people buy "the blue Note Sound", they are buying Alfred Lion's records. Same with Creed Taylor.

And they both controlled the end product, Taylor more obviously, but Lion no less substantially.

So we don't like Creed Taylor for whatever reasons. Whatever.

oh btw - solid State records were VERY much mixed for radio - all that reverb that they took out years later, that shit was made to play on AM jazz radio, don't think it wasn't. Sonny Lester knew what he was doing with those records.

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My point is that Creed Taylor mattered mostly to himself and to his bosses until, as you say, he didn't. I don't dislike Taylor that much, enjoy many albums he produced, just don't see why he mattered that much. This sensibility of his seems to me to have run about as deep as an interior decorator's -- nice if you like that kind of decor, and nice for him and his bosses if a reasonable-sized segment public digs it for a reasonable chunk of time, but then? Surely, Lion's footprint was deeper and of more consequence. It's not just a matter of reflecting sensibilities but of what your taste and core values are. That Lion's "sensibility"(i.e. his taste and values)  led him to put a bunch of chips behind Jimmy Smith right after  he heard him in a club for the first time certainly paid off for Lion, is one thing; that Smith went on to make the fine, fun big-band albums he did for Verve (those were Taylor productions, right?) is another.  Yes, it takes all kinds (don't forget Oliver Nelson), and I admit that circumstances and timing are fluid things, and in terms of results Creed Taylor is not Enoch Light. But if we're lining up sensibilities and could read minds, I'd bet that Taylor and Light had more in common in their noggins than not. If Creed could have made money off of Dick Schory, I think he would have in a minute.

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Maybe this is even further off topic from Early Bill Evans, but I think Creed's influence is still felt in the rise of smooth jazz.  If I may quote myself (and really how often can I possibly say that?) back in the 90s when I was young and more of a Wyntonite than I am now, I had a letter published by either DB or Jazz Times in which I called Smooth Jazz "the bastard child of Miles Davis and Creed Taylor". What can I say I liked the turn of phrase.) :g

 

But who followed Alfred? The guy who ran Sharp Nine?

 

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32 minutes ago, Dan Gould said:

Maybe this is even further off topic from Early Bill Evans, but I think Creed's influence is still felt in the rise of smooth jazz.  If I may quote myself (and really how often can I possibly say that?) back in the 90s when I was young and more of a Wyntonite than I am now, I had a letter published by either DB or Jazz Times in which I called Smooth Jazz "the bastard child of Miles Davis and Creed Taylor". What can I say I liked the turn of phrase.) :g

 

But who followed Alfred? The guy who ran Sharp Nine?

 

It's not so much WHO followed Alfred, though some tried to (he certainly was an inspiration for Chuck, for one), but that the MUSIC to some notable degree has followed the music that Alfred significantly fostered. And I'm not just thinking of BN's shaping influence on latter-day hard bop, but of the influence of the whole broad reach of Blue Note -- e.g. Andrew Hill, Sam Rivers, Shorter,  the two Tony Williams albums, the more adventurous Hutcherson albums. et al. Gazing at, for one, the liner notes for various semi-recent Criss Cross releases, I can't tell you how many times that label's artists cite recordings from what might called the "left wing" of vintage Blue Note as crucial influences on their own music. 

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1 hour ago, Larry Kart said:

My point is that Creed Taylor mattered mostly to himself and to his bosses until, as you say, he didn't. I don't dislike Taylor that much, enjoy many albums he produced, just don't see why he mattered that much. This sensibility of his seems to me to have run about as deep as an interior decorator's -- nice if you like that kind of decor, and nice for him and his bosses if a reasonable-sized segment public digs it for a reasonable chunk of time, but then? Surely, Lion's footprint was deeper and of more consequence. It's not just a matter of reflecting sensibilities but of what your taste and core values are. That Lion's "sensibility"(i.e. his taste and values)  led him to put a bunch of chips behind Jimmy Smith right after  he heard him in a club for the first time certainly paid off for Lion, is one thing; that Smith went on to make the fine, fun big-band albums he did for Verve (those were Taylor productions, right?) is another.  Yes, it takes all kinds (don't forget Oliver Nelson), and I admit that circumstances and timing are fluid things, and in terms of results Creed Taylor is not Enoch Light. But if we're lining up sensibilities and could read minds, I'd bet that Taylor and Light had more in common in their noggins than not. If Creed could have made money off of Dick Schory, I think he would have in a minute.

Ok, you're talking esthetics, I'm talking business, pure and simple. If Creed Taylor wanted to get Mel Lewis to do some overdubbing on a Paul Desmond record being made at the time when his company was doing very well, then hey. so be it. Remark on it all you want, question all you want, deride/mock/etc all you want, but it doesn't change the basic business truth that creed Taylor was making those records the way he made them, and they were selling. so....yeah, his call,  Absolutely.

 

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