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Portrait In Jazz [Hybrid SACD]

Bill Evans Audio CD
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 118.95
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Product Description


Lyric and thoughtful, pianist Bill Evans proved an urbane bridge between the early bop style of Bud Powell and playful funk of Horace Silver, and the later, modern approach of pianists like Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, and Keith Jarrett (indeed, Jarrett went as far as to record with Evans's backup band of drummer Paul Motian and bassist Gary Peacock). Evans's second album as a leader, Portrait in Jazz combines a pair of originals--"Blue in Green" and "Peri's Scope"--with a handful of show tunes and standards, including a version of "Someday My Prince Will Come" that pre-dates Miles Davis's adaptation. With a preference for irregular phrasing and a taste for unusual chord spellings, Evans was frequently able to recast old chestnuts and tired warhorses into new gems and spirited charges, as he does here with "Witchcraft," "Spring Is Here," and "When I Fall in Love." And although he recorded in many different formats throughout his career, including duets with himself, the power and beauty of Evans's trios helped him lay a special claim to that grouping. --Fred Goodman

Product Description

BILL EVANS TRIO Portrait In Jazz (2003 US 11-track stereo gold Hybrid SA-CD [Super Audio CD - playable on all SACD and CD players] the greatest sounding CD issue of this masterpiece out there expanded to include two bonus tracks including an alternate take of Blue In Green & a mono version of Autumn Leaves. Quite simply an essential addition to any audiophile collection RISA-1162-6)

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
By MikeG
Format:Audio CD
Portrait in Jazz was the first of only four (official) albums made by what Evans fans know as "the first trio" - the one with Scott La Faro and Paul Motian - which introduced a new approach to the music of a jazz piano trio. Whereas the conventional trio tended to feature the pianist as a 'star soloist' with bass and percussion essentially as 'accompanists' with a fixed and limited role, Evans, La Faro and drummer Paul Motian aimed to develop more of a sense of equal and spontaneous interplay. Scott La Faro was the right man in the right place: his virtuoso technique and strong musical personality enabled him to play the more active, assertive (but compatible) role Evans wanted for the group. By the time this trio played its famous sessions at The Village Vanguard (Live at the Village Vanguard and Waltz for Debby) this 'collective improvisation' was well developed. Portrait in Jazz being the first album by the trio, the roles within the group are sometimes still fairly conventional, with bass and drums functioning as a 'rhythm section' with the pianist spotlighted as 'leader'. However, there's a strong sense of discovery and enthusiasm which, I think, gives the music a greater freshness and vitality than the subsequent albums by this trio and it's those qualities, along with the sensitive, alert musicianship of the trio which makes this one of the most absorbing and enjoyable of Evans's many albums.
Part of its appeal is also the excellent choice of material, but much of the interest lies in what Evans in particular does with it. Often this is mainly a matter of the unusual chord voicings and adjustments of rhythm and phrasing he gives to a familiar tune, which open up wider harmonic and rhythmic perspectives for improvising.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Audio CD
All of Bill Evans' Riverside recordings are, in my opinion, classics - yes, even the 'alternate takes'. What make the alternate takes valuble to me is the chance to hear the sidemen (Scott LaFaro on bass and Paul Motian on drums) explore different melodies and solos. "Autumn Leaves" is a case in point here. As a musician myself, it is fascinating to hear the subtle differences between the stereo and mono takes and the different ideas by all three players. I must disagree with the previous reviewer who thinks that the "bonus" tracks are invalid both as music and marketing. Originally, when first reissued on a double LP entitled "Spring Leaves" - containing both single LPs "Explorations" recorded in 1961, and "Portrait in Jazz" recorded in 1959 - the "bonus" tracks were simply called "previously unissued", and included both the mono version of "Autumn Leaves" as well as a version of "The Boy Next Door". This was not a marketing ploy, as the double LP was very fairly priced and contained enough material without the added tracks. It was done for historical purposes and cleared by the artist. The stereo equipment had malfunctioned on the one - we will never know whether or not Bill Evans was or was not satisfied with the take, but it is true that Evans was not fully satisfied with "The Boy Next Door" and it was not included in the single LP "Explorations". Later, though, Evans would look back and be less critical, allowing these to be released as part of that Milestone "twofer". He also states plainly in the liner notes that he feels both of these LPs to be some of his best work. I concur. There is not one single track on "Portraits in Jazz" that dips below the highest standard. The near-telepathic communication between Evans and LaFaro has been well documented and is clearly heard on all tracks. Read more ›
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "bonus" schmonus. April 17 2002
By Joseph
Format:Audio CD
The performances here are great, but I'm deducting two stars for the "bonus tracks". If a record company feels guilty that a CD will hold more music, it should reduce the price of the CD; the record itself, at least this record, is ONE work of ART. Adding "bonus tracks" to it is like adding "bonus paint" to a Van Gogh. Particularly irksome are alternate take "bonus tracks", especially alternate take "bonus tracks" placed immediately after or before the takes the artist actually wanted us to hear.
In the case of this version of "Portrait in Jazz", however, the liner notes at least attempt to explain what the alternate takes are doing here. In my opinion, though, its arguments are invalid:
1) The extra "Blue in Green" is included, allegedly, because the producer didn't understand why Bill Evans failed to choose it. As far as I'm concerned, all that matters is that he didn't; Bill Evans is the artist; this is Bill Evans's choice to make.
2) The extra "Autumn Leaves" is included, allegedly, because the preferred take (which is the one incongruously listed as a "bonus track" here, oddly enough) was recorded in mono. Guess what? Stereo recording is not NECESSARILY an improvement over mono recording, not any more so than oil painting is necessarily an improvement over watercolor. Stereo and mono are merely different media: If a piece is intentionally and artfully recorded in mono, then it is worth hearing in mono.
If you feel nevertheless absolutely compelled to give us "bonus tracks", please put them all at the beginning of the CD. That way I can just punch on my remote the first track number after them and not have to fuss.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Kind of Great
As I understand it, this was the first of Evans' trio work with Lafaro on bass, & Motian on drums. Somewhere I read that the trio setting was Evans' favorite. Read more
Published on Dec 28 2010 by Jerlaw
4.0 out of 5 stars This catches him at the right moment
...after Newport and "Kind of Blue" whose his spare, minimalist instrumentation left you wanting more. And here you get more -- and less. Read more
Published on Dec 22 2002 by H. Walters
5.0 out of 5 stars The Beginning???
This is the first of many great albums by this fabulous artist. That is probably what's so amazing about it. It has a very "finished" feel to it. Read more
Published on Dec 7 2002
5.0 out of 5 stars classic Jazz
This is the swingest album from Bill Evans, and the texture Bill Play here are very clasical,,I rated this album more 10 stars actually.
Published on Sept. 24 2002 by Rizki Sewaka
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Gem!
Contrary to the views of some Evans' devotees, not all of his recordings are uniformly excellent. Much of the material from the middle of his career, especially, suffers from a... Read more
Published on Aug. 31 2001 by Samuel Chell
5.0 out of 5 stars BLUE IN GREEN
PORTRAIT IN JAZZ, like all the material recorded by the transcedental trio of Evans/LaFaro/Motian, is timeless and crucial. Read more
Published on June 12 2001 by A Jazz head
5.0 out of 5 stars a PERFECT album
If you are having any doubts about buying this cd, put your mind to rest and just buy it. It is the best trio cd in the world. Read more
Published on March 15 2001
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential recording by one of the greatest trios,
Much has been written about the Bill Evan's genius, and this album is an early document of it.
His interpretations of standards are superb, always (like Ella Fitzgerald)... Read more
Published on Dec 12 2000 by Mike P
5.0 out of 5 stars Bill Evans at his best
If you have ever listened to Bill Evans play before you will know the complex harmonies he is famous for along with impecable timing. Read more
Published on Nov. 7 2000 by Steven Pozza
5.0 out of 5 stars Intricate chording and harmony
For those of you who love unusual chord voicings which are very difficult to imitate on the piano, try listening to this album especially the slower pieces. Read more
Published on Aug. 20 2000 by Joseph Creed
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