Everybody Digs Bill Evans

Bill Evans

Riverside, 1958


REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


People who know me may ask me from time to time, “Hey, CT, if you say how much you love Bill Evans’s music, how come you’ve only reviewed one of his albums?”

Good question… wish I had a good answer. But it’s a wrong that is easily reversed -- and what better way than to check out Everybody Digs Bill Evans, the second release from the jazz pianist?

If you pick this disc up expecting the near-frantic piano playing that occasionally marked New Jazz Conceptions, chances are you’ll be disappointed. Here, Evans is almost introspective in his playing, taking an often softer approach to the music and his playing.

Ah, but therein lies the beauty of this disc – and one can almost put the credit for the change in style in the hands of Miles Davis, whose group Evans briefly joined in the mid-‘50s. Back on his own with the backing band of bassist Paul Chambers and drummer Philly Joe Jones, Evans seemed to take a lot of what he absorbed from his time with my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Davis and applied it to his own performances.

Take, for example, the power hidden in the gentle touch of songs like “Young And Foolish,” “Peace Piece” and “What Is There To Say?” Granted, it may seem like Evans took a step backward from his innovative piano phrasings, but having listened to this CD on and off for a few years (no joke), you really need to pay attention to the music contained on this platter. Lock yourself down with a good pair of headphones and let the music envelop you, and you will undoubtedly be surprised at just how good these performances are.

This isn’t to say that Everybody Digs Bill Evans is a mellow listen. The opening track “Minority” continues the style of jazz that Evans introduced on New Jazz Conceptions that, frankly, I absolutely love. Likewise, their take on Cole Porter’s “Night And Day” and Sonny Rollins’s “Oleo” carry this disc into new areas, inviting the listener to come along, albeit on Evans’s own terms. It’s a journey well worth taking.

It can be argued that Evans had yet to hit his peak with the Trio, having not hooked up with Scott LeFaro at this point. This may be so – but there is no denying the magic that this version of the Trio had. The interlocking of Evans’s piano with the under-stated bass work by Chambers and Jones’s skin work is, pure and simple, magic that cannot be denied.

If any fault had to be taken with this disc, it’s that it, admittedly, is not the easiest disc to get into – it’s not as approachable as New Jazz Conceptions was, to my ears. Still, if the listener applies just a little patience and sets aside 50 minutes of quiet time to devote to nothing but this disc, your effort will quickly be rewarded. (Pressed for time? No sweat -- simply split your listen up in two halves, following each “Epilogue” that Evans set through the disc. You will have to carry on listening after the second version of “Epilogue,” though.)

Looking back, I can’t believe I haven’t reviewed any of Evans’s work since 2002. Worse yet, I can’t believe it’s taken me as long to see the true genius of Everybody Digs Bill Evans. Here’s hoping it doesn’t take me as long to continue discovering why Evans, in my mind, is one of the best jazz musicians I have discovered to date.

Rating: A-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2007 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Riverside, and is used for informational purposes only.