_New Jazz Conceptions_--a solid early date with Teddy Kotick & Paul Motian; Evans is as yet not that distinctive a pianist, & the real early achievements are to be found in his sideman appearances on George Russell's albums.
_Everybody Digs Bill Evans_--a date from two years later, during Evans' tenure with Miles Davis; the rhythm section is Sam Jones & Philly Joe Jones. The first great Evans album, split between hard-hitting uptempo numbers like "Oleo" and his trademark luminous ballads like "Young and Foolish".
A session with Paul Chambers & Philly Joe Jones only released in 1975: this was an unplanned recording (they were in the studio as the rhythm section for a Chet Baker date, & the producer invited them to continue afterwards & cut a trio recording); the material is easily picked standards. An excellent date, & one of the only ones here not currently available outside of the box set.
_Portrait in Jazz_, _Explorations_, _Sunday at the Village Vanguard_, _Waltz for Debby_: the classic trio with Scott LaFaro & Paul Motian. This is material every jazz fan should know. Nice to have the Vanguard tracks here in the original order of playing, rather than the ordering on the CD reissues, which puts duplicate versions of the same tune next to each other.
Cannonball Adderley's _Know What I Mean?_, a session included because it was intended as a feature for Evans. Some interesting material on this one: the title track is a modal tune; "Elsa" is an Earl Zindars tune that Evans also covered on _Explorations_; "Toy" is a tune by Adderley's protege, the saxophonist Clifford Jordan (cf. Jordan's _Spellbound_ date).
A previously unreleased abortive attempt at a solo album: Evans was still very depressed about LaFaro's death in a car accident at the time, & there's some of Evans' most downcast & fragile ballad-playing here. Not perhaps a session to listen to too often, but interesting, & again it's not available outside this set.
_Moon Beams_ & _How My Heart Sings!_: dates with Chuck Israel on bass in place of the late Scott LaFaro; the date is especially notable for the return of Evans the composer (with LaFaro in the band Evans seems to have taken a back seat in this regard, encouraging LaFaro to contribute originals like "Jade Visions" & "Gloria's Steps"). Classic tunes like "Very Early" receive their premieres here.
_Interplay_ and _Loose Blues_. The former is a pleasing if inconsequential date with Jim Hall, Freddie Hubbard, Percy Heath & Philly Joe Jones, mostly doing lightweight old standards like "Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams"; the most important track is the one original, the intricate contrapuntal blues "Interplay". _Loose Blues_ has a similar group, with Hubbard & Heath replaced by Zoot Sims & Ron Carter; it is all originals, often very interesting ones, but the session went unreleased until after Evans' death because the musicians had such difficulty with the tunes that it proved impossible to produce complete & acceptable takes of several of the tracks. The versions here are spliced together from multiple takes. An interesting session, not least for glimpses of originals like "Fun Ride" which Evans never included in his regular repertoire, but not an especially successful date.
A superb & very important solo session, Evans's first; this went unreleased at the time, & only appeared after his detah in this box set, although it is now available separately. This is still something of the main attraction here: this is some of Evans's least celebrated music because of its belated release, but is certainly his finest recorded solo performance. One gets previews of material better-known in recordings he did for Verve--"Theme from Spartacus", "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town"--which is still at its freshest here, & there's a marvellous reading of "Nardis" which points ahead towards the unaccompanied improvisations on the tune which were the highlight of his late live recordings with Marc Johnson & Joe LaBarbara.
_Live at Shelly's Manne-Hole_ ends the set; there's some more material here than is available on the single-CD reissue of this date, which is very welcome. This material has Chuck Israels on bass, & on drums the west-coast player Larry Bunker. This is an underrated item in the Evans canon; it is notable for some well-prepared versions of standard material (there's a comprehensively reharmonized "What Is This Thing Called Love?" which deserves close study; & a deeply-felt "Round Midnight"), plus the first issued version of "Time Remembered" (the tune had earlier been on the unreleased Sims/Hall date).
There's little more to be said except: this is some of the great music of the last century. This set is certainly for those already committed to completism, but unlike many reissues this is a document that will also satisfy the casual listener: the sessions are not flooded with alternate takes & false starts, nor is there any bad music here. Of the unfamiliar material, I would single out the Evans/Chambers/Jones date & the solo sessions as first-rate; the others are more mixed in their success, but everything here is worth a listen.