Bill Evans
Alone


4.0
excellent

Review

by bnelso55 USER (30 Reviews)
February 2nd, 2017 | 29 replies


Release Date: 1968 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A barebones display of artistry.

Few pianists are better suited for the solo setting than Bill Evans. His distinctive playing, paradoxically characterized by substantial harmonic power and delicate melodic sensitivity, can command attention even in its most solitary state. To back the claim, perhaps no record in his extensive catalog is a more ideal “exhibit A” than the final album he produced for Verve Records, the technically impressive yet tonal, floating and dreamy Alone.

Recorded at New York City’s Webster Hall in late 1968, this Grammy Award-winning set is Evans' first true piano solo album. The five songs, including a near 15-minute exploration of "Never Let Me Go", takes the template established by his ‘63 and ’67 Verve overdubbing sessions, Conversations with Myself (three pianos) and Further Conversations with Myself (two pianos), and strips it even further. No multi-tracking, no backing band, no safety nets, this is a barebones display of Evans’ artistry.

It would be somewhat misleading to say that Alone finds Evans at his best. The quality of his playing rarely faltered, but it should be noted that the performance here is spot-on and lovely. In true Evans fashion, the music moves with thought and introspection, passing neither briskly or lethargically. Side A may be somewhat impeded by the repertoire’s lack of variety, although Evan’s interpretation of the Broadway tune "Here's That Rainy Day" and Zawinul’s "Midnight Mood," are nonetheless enjoyable. The performer’s improvisational savvy is spotlighted in the side-long, melancholic rendition of "Never Let Me Go", where Evans states the theme before spiraling into fresh territory only to return to that blue melody and begin anew.

Documented solo performances by Evans are quite limited, so this record could be counted as a blessing. Although some may miss the sidemen interplay featured on previous and subsequent recordings, this assortment of soft but intricate pieces is a prime opportunity to uninhibitedly observe his technique. It’s equally recommendable to completists and those in need of an introduction to this master of modal and post-bop jazz.



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user ratings (23)
3.7
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
bnelso55
February 3rd 2017


1442 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I was kind of surprised to see there were no Bill Evans reviews. Definitely not his most popular record, but hopefully this draws some attention to the guy.

Jethro42
February 3rd 2017


18270 Comments


I probably only know Bill Evans by his name, but I think that all like Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock, he is a pioneer of jazz fusion, isn't he? I'm gonna try his stuff, starting with this.

Great review, bnelso! Sad you haven't got many visitors...

bnelso55
February 3rd 2017


1442 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

^That'd one that is definitely deserving of a review. If you don't already have plans to review it, I may take a stab at it at some point.



@Jethro - Thank you! I'm not sure how far he delved in to fusion. I think he mostly stuck to post-bop and modal jazz. He did do a couple "Third Stream" recordings with symphony orchestras, although I don't think that you count that as "fusion" though.

This might be an OK starting point for Evans. Hopefully you enjoy it! I'm not sure of your preferences, but if you think you might be interested in something with a little more pep, you might enjoy some of his trio work, namely Explorations, Sunday at the Village Vanguard, You Must Believe in Spring.

Jethro42
February 3rd 2017


18270 Comments


I thought it was the case because of these ''similar artists'' from his main page, and also cos you mentioned his 15- minute exploration and your mention of Zawinul as well.

bnelso55
February 3rd 2017


1442 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

That's a reasonable assumption and it may be that I'm just not too familiar with other pockets of his discography. I've always more closely associated him with the modal, post-bop and cool styles.

Sabrutin
February 7th 2017


9542 Comments


Great work, I'm no Evans expert but I love the stuff I've heard so far (Waltz for Debby especially). I'll get around this too one day

CusmanX1
March 27th 2017


375 Comments


I absolutely love Evans, despite I know just 4 or 5 records. For sure one of the greatest jazzists of all times

p4p
March 27th 2017


1959 Comments


whoa nice review man. prob my favorite jazz performer ever.

bnelso55
March 27th 2017


1442 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thank you! He's definitely one of my favorites, too. I love the distinguishability of his playing. You can always tell it's him.

zakalwe
January 11th 2019


38516 Comments


Can’t get enough of this bloke at the moment. All a bit blue rinse and cocktail lounge but it offers a lovely alternative to the majority of tripe floating around.

MetalMarcJK
October 17th 2021


971 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Excellent album and review!

Trifolium
April 6th 2022


38549 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

My goodness I love Bill. Have been falling more and more in love with his work over the course of the last couple of years. He's one of my all time faves now for sure.



This one was for Moon Beams.

CottonSalad
April 6th 2022


2467 Comments


You Must Believe in Spring is my personal favorite - no review on here tho

Trifolium
April 6th 2022


38549 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I know. There are but two (2!!!!!) Bill Evans reviews here. Scandalous. Horrible.



So many highs, my goodness. My fave would be the Live in Paris 1972 triple album, unsurprisingly. Love his trio-work the most.

CottonSalad
April 6th 2022


2467 Comments


So many highs indeed…lucky us :]

Sabrutin
April 6th 2022


9542 Comments


I've become a YMBIS guy too, think I'll 5 it when I decide to rate again

Trifolium
April 6th 2022


38549 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

5.0ing his stuff is always a good idea 💖



Haven't heard that one yet, will have to check that after you guys' lofty praise, after How My Heart Sings finishes.

CottonSalad
April 6th 2022


2467 Comments


Oh, you’re in for a trio treat Trif!

Trifolium
April 6th 2022


38549 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

YESSSS! That's what I'd like to hear! 🥰🤭💞😘😏

Zig
April 6th 2022


2746 Comments


need to listen this; have been checking Evans' later years, recently.
You Must Believe In Spring is, perhaps, his best record.



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