Bill Evans, Another Time: The Hilversum Concert

Resonance Records is emerging as the most vital jazz reissue house around—or, rather, not "reissue," for the music they put out has never been issued before: the producer Zev Feldman (or someone who contacts him) has found it in an unexamined vault, back room, or collectors' cove. The material is top-flight, the sound very good to excellent, and he often releases the albums on CD and LP. So far he has delivered some of the best albums ever by Larry Young, Sarah Vaughan, Shirley Horn, and the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra, but Feldman holds a special regard for Bill Evans.

The final few years of Evans, who died in 1980 at age 51 of complications from drug addiction and other ailments, have been preserved entirely by posthumous discoveries: The Paris Concert (Elektra Musician), The Last Waltz and (Milestone), Turn Out the Stars (Nonesuch)—without these sunset gems, all live sessions, we'd think that Evans faded out with a string of dreary studio albums, some of them with electric piano. (For a sad but fascinating documentary of Evans' life and music, including many rare films clips, see Bruce Siegel's Time Remembered.)

Resonance is now filling in some blanks from Evans' middle years, the late 1960s, for which there's also a paucity of albums, or at least of very good ones. The best of the new stack is the latest, Another Time, recorded before a live audience in the studio of Netherlands Radio Union in Hilversum, outside Amsterdam, on June 22, 1968. Until this release, no one ever knew the tapes of this performance existed.

It is also one of just three albums featuring his trio with Eddie Gomez on bass and Jack DeJohnette on drums—the others being The Montreux Concert (which was released by Verve at the time) and another Resonance discovery, put out two years ago, Some Other Time: The Lost Session in the Black Forest. The Hiversum set was the climax of the trio's three sessions we now know of—recorded two days after Some Other Time, five days after Montreux.

The Montreux Concert is widely considered one of Evans' best albums; some place it just behind his wondrous back-to-back 1961 sessions, Waltz for Debby and Sunday Afternoon at the Village Vanguard. I would put Another Time on the same level as Montreux, and the sound quality is nearly as good.

The Gomez-DeJohnette trio was by far his best since the '61 band with bassist Scott LaFaro and drummer Paul Motian, which was disrupted when LaFaro, 10 days after the Vanguard sets, died in a car accident, a tragedy from which Evans never quite recovered. (The '68 trio didn't last long either: soon after these sets, DeJohnette was recruited by Miles Davis; Gomez stayed on, but the subsequent drummers weren't quite as polyrhythmically sublime.) Evans himself, who'd dipped deeper into addiction after that event, is in fine form: elegiac, romantic, lyrical—all the adjectives usually attached to his pianism, but there's also a buoyancy and sometimes a fervent swing that his name doesn't so commonly evoke. And it's a joyous fervency, not the cocaine-fueled frenzy one hears on some of his last albums (eg, his 1980 Vanguard set, Turn Out the Stars).

Evans' most energetic albums seem to be the live ones. Some Other Time, the Resonance album recorded in a Black Forest studio, though mainly quite good, has passages of rote playing.

The sound quality on Another Time, the Hilversum concert (the similarity in titles is unfortunate), is superb on CD and better still on LP, unmatched by any other Evans albums except for Montreux and the better Riversides. Many years ago, the long-lamented Classic Records released an excellent limited-edition 45rpm remastering of Montreux, which sounded better than the original pressing; someone should think about a re-release.

Meanwhile, there's this, and Feldman tells me there are more excavated treasures to come.

Coming Soon: new Bill Evans audiophile reissues—the Riverside years.

COMMENTS
mmole's picture

"The sound quality on Another Time, the Hilversum concert (the similarity in titles is unfortunate), is superb on CD and better still on LP..."

I'm sure you're right but Resonance's policy of only issuing the vinyl in limited editions for Record Store Day is frustrating. Lowest eBay price for "Another Time" is $157.33. For "Some Other Time" it's $403. Not to mention that the Mofi "one-step" "Village Vanguard" is $270.

For Bill Evans vinyl fans it's the best of times and the worst of times.

vanpelten's picture

The CD sounds excellent and priced right. The Vinyl Vultures are having a field day exploiting the vinyl fad. Eventually, when the millennials grow up and find a new trend, the prices for these artificially 'rare' commodities will come down. Simple economics.

jtshaw's picture

Wonderful performance, excellent sound. Enjoy it first for the music, but I think there's some fun to be had playing this recording on various systems. I suspect it will sound as good as a system will allow. The shimmer of DeJohnette's cymbals is truly captivating.

AaronGarrett's picture

Isn't this the same concert offered by Fondamenta in a hi-rez (and inexpensive) download?

http://www.fondamenta-music.com/releases/271?locale=en

All of the Fondamenta live releases are stunning -- Oscar Peterson (sublime concert), Sarah Vaughan, and the new Ella and Brubeck -- both partnered with Devialet.

NeilS's picture

I love the music, but not the mastering. I found that the dynamic range of the individual digital tracks varies from 9-11 db - OK but nothing I would write Mom about. I think it would have been a better gift to the present and posterity had this important release instead been mastered with the kind of wide dynamics as "Turn Out The Stars: The Final Village Vanguard Recordings" (where I found the DR ranges from 12-16 db).

I believe that Bill Evans was one of the greatest pianists of the 20th century, every bit as good a jazz pianist as Glenn Gould was as a classical pianist. Why not have the dynamic range on his recordings every bit as good?

Jason Victor Serinus's picture

Are you certain that the dynamic range of the original live recording is greater? In addition, have you measured the double DSD release available from nativedsd.com?

NeilS's picture

based on the dynamic range of not only "Turn Out The Stars", but other Bill Evans live recordings, such as "At the Village Vanguard", (DR 12-16); "Sunday at the Village Vanguard" (DR 12-16) "Bill Evans at Town Hall" (DR 11-15); "At the Montreux Jazz Festival" (DR 13-17); The Paris Concerts (DR 12-14), I guess I think it's not that unreasonable to suppose this live recording might as well.

bmoura's picture

I have Another Time - The Hilversum Concert by Bill Evans in Quad DSD (DSD 256) from NativeDSD Music. It's very good. Definitely worth picking up.

https://2xhd.nativedsd.com/albums/2XHDRE1069-another-time-the-hilversum-...

cobra_verde's picture

I have not been successful at buying these several Resonance Record Store Day releases. I refuse to buy from scalpers online. Further, the whole experience has turned me off of Resonance.

Still, I appreciate Fred's review, will enjoy the Montreux Classics I have, and will await Fred's review of other Bill Evans releases that presumably are actually available for purchase.

--Jesse

jimtavegia's picture

This is a very selfish and greedy business attitude to keep some great Bill Evans performances from all to many who may not be able to justify high priced lps. Of course if they had reasonably priced high resolution downloads that would hurt the price of the LPs. It Tight Lines can be sold for a most reasonable $20 for an lp this makes no sense other than they can do it.

AaronGarrett's picture

I'm listening to it right now on a superb 176/24 download which cost $15. See the link to Fondamenta above.

Allen Fant's picture

Thanks! for covering, as always, FK.
Another +vote for superb material and sound quality on CD.

I sure hope that there is more Bill Evans to follow.

Tempo's picture

I've bought a few Resonance Records releases over the past couple of years, and they've all been impressive. I did attend the last Record Store Day--a first for me--and picked up the Another Time as well as the Kelly Trio/Montgomery Smokin' in Seattle LPs. For the price I would have liked a digital download card, but I digitized them in order to listen while driving and hiking. I also agree that the LPs should be available beyond Record Store Day.

I suppose I can't complain about limited LP availability too much, as I think they did a great job with the CD versions of Evans' Some Other Time and Top of the Gate releases, The Three Sounds' Groovin Hard, Lovano and Liebman's Compassion, and the Jones/Lewis Orchestra's All My Yesterdays. All of these albums have helped me get some groove and more enjoyment during a somewhat difficult time.

I'm also looking forward to the article about Evans' Riverside years reissues.

volvic's picture

I purchased quite a bit as they had plenty that interested me and wouldn't you know it they forgot one CD of Bill Evans. Not a great start, called said they would send it out same day, now see how long it takes to get here. Not even so much as an apology. Hopefully the music and recordings will make up for the shortfall.

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