Bill Evans: The Tokyo Concert

By Carl Glatzel, Editor

Today we celebrate the birth of Bill Evans. A fitting album of his to enjoy, and one of my personal favorites, is one that marks somewhat of a rebirth for Evans on the jazz scene, “The Tokyo Concert“. This prodigious album was recorded January 20, 1973 at Yubin Chokin Hall in Tokyo. Bill Evans’ second great trio is in tow with Eddie Gomez on double bass and Marty Morell on drums. Critically acclaimed, this concert was described by Evans’ producer, Helen Keane, as a perfect one.

Herb_Geller,_NDR_Jazzworkshop_ca._1972_(Heinrich_Klaffs_Collection_94)

Bill Evans Trio with Herb Geller at the NDR Jazz Workshop, 1972. The NDR Jazz Workshop was a concert series established 1958 by public German broadcaster Norddeutscher Rundfunk.

The rebirth comes in the form of Evans’ personal appearance and material. He was described by Kiyoshi Koyama, a noted Japanese jazz critic, as wearing a tailored black tuxedo with a bright pink dress shirt. Evans was known to only wear dark colors, never drawing attention to himself. His change in outward appearance seems to coordinate with his new association with the Fantasy label, a relationship that would prove fruitful.

How_My_Heart_Sings

For a better understanding of the man behind the music, I recommend reading “Bill Evans: How My Heart Sings,” a biography by Peter Pettinger on Yale University Press.

Aside from his appearance he brought new material to the stage that night—”Mornin’ Glory,” “Up with the Lark,” Yesterday I Heard the Rain,” “When Autumn Comes,” “T.T.T.T.,” and “Hullo Bolinas” were all new additions. Along with Evans’ staples like “Gloria’s Step” and “My Romance” this album is really well rounded with typically introspective ballads, swinging burners and extended solos.

bill_evans_trio_1974

Bill Evans Trio, 1974 (From left: Eddie Gomez, Bill Evans, Marty Morell)

Packed with lilting, joyous songs like Bobbie Gentry’s “Mornin’ Glory” and Jerome Kern’s “Up With the Lark” it’s hard not to sit through repeat listenings. The trio operates in unison and lives up to their storied past throughout this outing. A very unique composition to note is “T.T.T.T. (Twelve Tone Tune Two)” which describes the work in that it consists of 12 measures utilizing the 12-tone scale. It was quite a feat to get through this demanding track in one take—especially for Eddie Gomez’s role on double bass.

So, if you’re a Bill Evans novice, a longtime fan of his first trio or just haven’t had the pleasure of listening to this gem—do so, it would be a great tribute to a jazz giant and gentleman.

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