Thursday, July 18, 2013

Bill Evans Trio: “How My Heart Sings!” (2013 re-issue) CD Review

Concord Music Group, as part of its Original Jazz Classics Remasters series, is re-issuing Bill Evans Trio’s How My Heart Sings! 

How My Heart Sings! was recorded at the same time as Moonbeams (which was re-issued last year with three bonus tracks). The sessions that yielded these two records were the first of the Bill Evans Trio since the death of bassist Scott LaFaro in the summer of 1961. Chuck Israels took over in that role in the spring of 1962 and is the bassist you hear on these tracks. Paul Motian remained the drummer for this time. This re-issue includes three bonus tracks, two of which have never before been released.

The album opens with its title track. I love the way Bill Evans dances so lightly over the keys. He’s one of my favorite pianists, and this tune has moments where his piano is all you hear – these short, wonderful spurts. But throughout, this track showcases his special talent, his special way of playing. A few minutes in, Chuck Israels takes the lead spot on bass, with Bill playing so quietly below him. “How My Heart Sings” was written by Earl Zindars. Bill Evans had covered other material by Earl Zindars, including “Elsa,” which was featured on Explorations

Another of my favorite pianists is Dave Brubeck, and on this album Bill Evans Trio does a wonderful, playful rendition of Brubeck’s “In Your Own Sweet Way.” Israels and Motian give it a great swing rhythm. For Israels’ lead section, the song takes on a moodier feel, though with Motian keeping the brushes active on the snare. There are some short, delicious solos on drums.  There is also an alternate, somewhat shorter, take of this tune included in the disc’s bonus tracks. The bass lead in this take is different, retaining more of that swing rhythm. I actually might prefer this take. It’s pretty wonderful.

There are three original Bill Evans compositions on this album: “Walking Up,” “34 Skidoo,” and “Show-Type Tune.” “Walking Up” is a treat. This tune puts a smile on my face. The bass lead by Chuck Israels is great, but what I really enjoy about that section is the little additions by Bill Evans on piano, these great, short comments, first coming at you like little jokes, then becoming sweet, before returning to these funny little rumblings. But the main section of the song is where my real delight is. This is one of my favorite tracks.

The second original composition, “34 Skidoo,” begins with a sweet, romantic bent to its swing. About a minute in, this song’s tone changes, becoming lighter, more playful, mainly due to Bill Evans’s playing. I really like where Chuck Israels takes this tune in his lead section. This disc includes another, previously unreleased version of this composition in the bonus tracks, and it’s seriously good. And the third Bill Evans composition on this disc is “Show-Type Tune,” a light, fun tune helped by Motian’s joyful drumming style.

If you are a music fan, then you are a Gershwin fan. I really don’t see any way around that. I’ve heard a lot of versions of “Summertime” over the years, and the one included here finds something different within its structure. It’s got a hip vibe about it. Pay particular attention to Chuck Israels work on bass. He really sets the tone on this one. There is something really fun about this rendition.

The Bill Evans Trio covers another incredible songwriter on this release, doing a good version of Cole Porter’s “Ev’rything I Love.” There is a second version included in the bonus tracks, a previously unreleased take. There are moments in both takes that are beautiful.

CD Track List

  1. How My Heart Sings
  2. I Should Care
  3. In Your Own Sweet Way
  4. Walking Up
  5. Summertime
  6. 34 Skidoo
  7. Ev’rything I Love
  8. Show-Type Tune
  9. In Your Own Sweet Way (Take 2)
  10. 34 Skidoo (Take 9)
  11. Ev’rything I Love (Take 2) 

This special re-issue of How My Heart Sings! is scheduled to be released on July 23, 2013 through Concord Music Group. Also scheduled for release on that date are West Montgomery: So Much Guitar!, Chet Baker: Plays The Best Of Lerner & Loewe, Thelonious Monk/Gerry Mulligan: Mulligan Meets Monk, and Cannonball Adderley with Milt Jackson: Things Are Getting Better.

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