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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$ 62.95
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Frequently Bought Together

Portrait In Jazz + Waltz for Debbie + Explorations
Price For All Three: CDN$ 84.86

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  • Waltz for Debbie CDN$ 9.83
  • Explorations CDN$ 12.08

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Product Description

One of the most innovative and influential pianists in jazz music history, Bill Evans recorded a host of albums that could lay claim to being trail-blazing. Portrait In Jazz is one such album, the first of two studio albums he was to record with his trio (alongside Scott LaFaro and Paul Motian) and a delight from start to finish. Whilst much of the material is comprised of standards, the trio’s interpretations are neither routine nor predictable. Instead, there is constant interplay between the piano and bass, producing a unique outing that is both subtle and creative. --This text refers to an alternate Audio CD edition.

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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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars BLUE IN GREEN June 12 2001
Format:Audio CD
PORTRAIT IN JAZZ, like all the material recorded by the transcedental trio of Evans/LaFaro/Motian, is timeless and crucial. Scott LaFaro would tragically die in a car accident immediately following the legendary Village Vanguard dates that produced SUNDAY AT THE VILLAGE VANGUARD and WALTZ FOR DEBBY, arguably robbing Evans of his single greatest accompanist. Together, these two musicians could propel each other through their playing to reach a point of absolute synergy that forever changed the nature of jazz trio piano. One note of interest for those with exposure to Evans only through KIND OF BLUE - Evan's own performance of BLUE IN GREEN is here, further illustrating how pivotal Evan's role was on that landmark Miles Davis session. EXPLORATIONS is also essential. One note on the Amazon review, though - this was not his 2nd record date as a leader, it was his 3rd. People often overlook his first Riveside album from 1956, NEW JAZZ EXPLORATIONS, but it contains many seeds of what would soon develop under Miles's guidance.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Re: Music Fan in WA Oct. 22 1999
By A Customer
Format:Audio CD
The self-contradictory nature ("don't be blind to the critics" vs. "Don't believe all these critics"; "Seems to be a foreign student." vs. the ungrammatical "There are a lot better music.") notwithstanding, the worst thing about the review below from "A Music Fan in WA" is its take on the album in general and Paul Motian (the "He ain't nothing but a sad drummer." mentioned by the author) in particular.
In regards to the album in general: while it may not be the best of Bill Evans on Riverside ("Explorations" and The Village Vanguard discs may collectively hold that title) it is by no means an album to be missed. It represents the first release by this famous trio (Evans, Scott LaFaro, Motian) and contains fine music.
Regarding the comments about Motian (whom our critic doesn't even identify by name), I could, and will, mention that his playing on this album is IMHO an important part of the trio's sound. He is a sensitive and tasteful player who was with Evans for some of his (Evans') finest music. However, rather than offer my opinion to support my argument, I'll simply appeal to authority, namely Evans himself. Evans chose to play with Motian from this album until the end of his time with Riverside (excluding the wonderful "Shelly's Manne-Hole" disc) and to state that Motian "... ain't nothing but a sad drummer." who "...destroyed Evans' music." is to imply that Evans was not an astute enough critic to recognize this destruction and thus maintained an ongoing relationship with a "sad" drummer throughout some of the most important years of his (Evans') career.
But enough said about our friend from WA. This disc has much to recommend it (as does any of Evans' work on Riverside): tasteful playing, great song selection, wonderful interplay, a taste of things to come (with the trio).
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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
3.0 out of 5 stars "bonus" schmonus.
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... Read more
Published on April 17 2002 by Joseph
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. 30 2001 by Samuel Chell
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. 6 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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