Bill Evans
Portrait in Jazz


4.0
excellent

Review

by ZIG USER (25 Reviews)
April 6th, 2022 | 40 replies


Release Date: 1960 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The Effigy of Standards

On December 28, 1959, at Reeves Sound Studios in New York, a trio recorded with Jack Higgins, a superb sound engineer, this album, titled simply and accurately “Portrait In Jazz”. It is especially successful because it is truly a portrait of jazz; if one day some explorers, within several centuries, find this album, they may have an idea of ​​what jazz is. This is because this work brings together all the necessary ingredients for that: balance, depth, daydreams, freedom, ability to suggest, respect for the listener, desire for knowledge, adventurous spirit. It is innovative and respects the tradition of transcending. It doesn't stop at any point, but remains firmly anchored on its path towards the most absolute beauty.

This is the first of four albums from the excellent Bill Evans trio, consisting of Evans on piano, Paul Motian on drums and Scott LaFaro on bass. LaFaro's untimely death in 1961 would put an end to this version of the trio, but he performs here in fine form. Also, Motian's talent is simply outstanding. In a piano trio setting, the drummer can easily dominate the mood, but Motain is delightfully understated and tasteful in his playing. More than a rhythm section to complement Bill's fantasies, it's La Faro's instant desire to gamble risky, Motion's epileptic fit on his cymbals, that signal to Evans that he must present a polar opposite on this canvas, his dreamer. and peaceful touch.

Despite the relative lack of originals, the material is very good, breathing new life into standards like Witchcraft, Autumn Leaves and Come Rain Or Come Shine. But there's a lot to appreciate, even if most of the songs are simple songs from popular standards. Autumn Leaves contains all the poetry, melancholy and nostalgia – this indefinable aura of Jacques Prévert's lyrics, without needing to sing; When I Fall In Love conveys the illusion, levitation, fragility and strength of falling in love, that magical and unrepeatable moment that elevates man above other mortal beings; Spring Is Here captures the unbeatable feeling of renewal, of blooming, of shedding, of being blissfully alive. Bill's piano caught my attention here, although perhaps that has to do with LaFaro's understated presence. Additionally, Someday My Prince Will Come and Blue in Green contrast with versions recorded by Miles Davis.

In conclusion, “Portrait in Jazz” is light, but that doesn't always have to be a bad thing. Surprisingly new reinventions of old standards, flexible and relaxed with LaFaro's bass guiding the music as much as Bill Evans' piano. There is no doubt that they are all great musicians. To make a piano trio, the band needs to select the right song to play. However, with many popular jazz standards, such as “Portrait in Jazz”, the album can get a little repetitive here and there.



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user ratings (168)
4.2
excellent


Comments:Add a Comment 
Zig
April 6th 2022


2746 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

the best way to start his discog

Trifolium
April 6th 2022


38549 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Agreed. Wonderful review too. Needless to say about a wonderful album.



Our third Evans review is a fact!

notagenius
April 6th 2022


1258 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I used to hear a few tracks from Waltz for Debby on the radio by accident, and then became crazy about Bill Evans Trio. But sadly, the most popular Portrait in Jazz is my least favorite record of theirs. It was light and relaxed, but I couldn't help but feel monotonous. :[

DadKungFu
Contributing Reviewer
April 6th 2022


4555 Comments


Damn, had a review started on this that I never got around to finishing. Regardless, you killed it. Hard pos

SteakByrnes
April 6th 2022


29485 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

bill evans owns

hel9000
April 6th 2022


1513 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

solid album for sure

MrSirLordGentleman
April 7th 2022


15343 Comments


needed review, it surprises me that there wasn't one

nice job!

MetalMarcJK
April 7th 2022


971 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Excellent review, Zig! Thank you for adding to the Bill Evans review count. I like your style, and I really hope you write more Evans reviews in the very near future.



Although this isn’t my favorite Bill Evans/Bill Evans Trio album, this is usually where I tell people to start. It’s a fantastic jumping-off point for those new to BE/BET and even to jazz, in general.



LaFaro was amazing, wasn’t he? man, that cat could swing and his solos were stunning. Bill gave Scott so much room to be himself, and man, did that dude take advantage of that opportunity! And yet, he was a strong team player.



Again, great review, Zig! Have a pos. Thanks for taking the time to do this.

grannypantys
April 7th 2022


2568 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

such excellent mood music



no one played like Bill

notagenius
April 7th 2022


1258 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

pos'd as well, in fact after reading this review, I picked up the records all over again. It's been a couple of years now. I did forget how wonderful Blue In Green is. thanks for the review.

Trifolium
April 7th 2022


38549 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yes yes more Bill here please! I'm still trying to figure out my angle for the ones I'd like to review from him. We'll see, it'll happen one day!

Get Low
April 7th 2022


14104 Comments


I went to slap a "need to check" post on the Moonbeams review but there is none.

pos'd btw

Trifolium
April 7th 2022


38549 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Moon Beams is loooooooovely!

Friday13th
April 7th 2022


7620 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Sweet album. I really should play this for my fiance, since she likes jazz and piano music generally.

Trifolium
April 7th 2022


38549 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yeah than you can't go wrong with Evans. Also Moon Beams might guarantee you a wonderful evening!

Zig
April 8th 2022


2746 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Also, don’t miss Evans’ Sunday at the Village Vanguard, and the two volumes live in Paris.

Trifolium
April 9th 2022


38549 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Saturday morning: Evans time!

Trifolium
April 9th 2022


38549 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Spending some time with Waltz For Debby today. Perfect harmony.

notagenius
April 9th 2022


1258 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

"Spending some time with Waltz For Debby today. Perfect harmony."



Serious support. I also like Explorations very much. but I'm generally more restless and listen more to hard bop. sounds like a great saturday for you

Edit: Explorations is the perfect equilateral triangle! Waltz For Debby simply can awaken the gentlest side of me. I love them.

notagenius
April 9th 2022


1258 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Waltz For Debby is one of my reasons why life is worth living for.



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