Wednesday, February 25, 2009

A Couple of Jazz Albums

The Bill Evans Trio – At the Village Vanguard (1961)
Seminal live performance by the granddaddy of all piano trios. I read a quote somewhere about Bill Evans’ playing eliciting the kind of abstract awe that one feels when standing inside a cathedral. That’s not to say that his playing is in any way distant or detached. Rather the music is hazy and lyrical, much like the work of impressionist composers Ravel and Debussy. Evans plays calm and understated all throughout, emphasizing atmosphere. This laid-back approach allows the bassist and drummer plenty of room to do their thing. The interplay between the three musicians is amazing. The bassist in particular completely breaks free from his expected role of rhythm-keeper and acts as a second lead instrument, weaving dense countermelodies around the piano and playing mind-bogglingly complex solos.

Eric Dolphy – Out To Lunch (1964)
One of the most wonderfully out-there jazz records I’ve ever encountered. I guess you can call it free jazz to the extent that it’s free from the harmonic and rhythmic conventions associated with this type of music. But this isn’t just a group of guys freaking out on a bunch of instruments. The tunes are carefully composed, and every band member, despite being accorded plenty of room to go nuts, knows what he’s doing.The melodies are harsh and angular; the rhythms can get pretty wild, and the unusual instrumentation (flute; bass clarinet; vibraphone instead of piano) gives these tracks an eerie, atmospheric quality. But this album grooves pretty hard, and has plenty of soul.


  1. thanks for the bill evans zzzzyrus, it's really hitting the g-spot.

  2. Great blog zzyrus! A year and a half late for a comment, but: "Out To Lunch" is heavily influenced by the work of Edgard Varese, a modern composer whom Dolphy [and Charlie Parker, years before] reportedly begged for music lessons, and recorded a few of Varese's smaller compositions.

    You also can hear a lot of Varese in Zappa, who was just as eccentrically classical-minded as Dolphy was.

  3. Thanks for Bill evans zzyrus!! I love this songs