Bill Evans – Some Other Time (review)

Bill Evans – Some Other Time: The Lost Session From the Black Forest (Resonance) review

A previously unreleased studio album from the legendary pianist, featuring stalwarts Eddie Gomez and Jack DeJohnette

Resonance Records should change their name to “Holy Grail Records.” The small, non-profit jazz reissue label based out of LA has already put out previously unreleased discs from celebrated artists like Wes Montgomery, Stan Getz and Sarah Vaughan. Yet, their latest release, Some Other Time, may be their biggest accomplishment to date.
Bill Evans was on tour in Europe playing the Montreux Jazz Festival in June of 1968 when it was suggested that he record with renowned producer Hans Georg Brunner-Schwer at his Black Forest studio in Germany. A session was booked where tracks were cut, but for some reason, they remained unissued. Now, after almost 50 years, these tracks are finally getting their proper release.

Make no mistake: this is no “bottom of the barrel” cash-in. The sound quality is phenomenal – warm, relaxed and inviting – as if it was recorded in someone’s living room (wait, it was). These sessions also mark the only studio recordings to feature Evans with drummer Jack DeJohnette, who really helps propel these tracks with his insistent, yet understated percussion. Let’s not forget bassist Eddie Gomez, who acts as a second soloist for much of the album.

Disc one starts with Evans’ reading of the standard “You Go to My Head,” with the pianist discarding the melody almost immediately. This gives way to an extended bass solo from Gomez. Then Evans revisits his own composition, “Very Early.” But, while the original (from 1962’s Moonbeams) seems to have a sadness to it, the version here is optimistic, driven by uncanny percussion. Listen during Gomez’s solo to how DeJohnette continues the conversation. Evans seems more energized than he has in years.

“Turn Out the Stars” is a prime example of the trio feeding off each other. Evans lays down the initial melody, with Gomez joining in, providing counterpoint. Then, DeJohnette seems to slowly bring things to a boil, continuing to add excitement. The interplay that the three have on “Walkin’ Up” is fantastic – and DeJohnette does so much just with his cymbals, it’s amazing.

Some songs feature the trio, some just Evans and Gomez, and a few, like “Lover Man,” and “It’s Alright With Me,” are solo piano pieces.

As has become standard with their releases, Resonance has included an exhaustive, 40-page booklet, featuring background on the process of acquiring these tapes, a short Evans bio, an essay about the studio, as well as recollections from both Gomez and DeJohnette.

The teaming with Jack DeJohnette alone makes Some Other Time extremely important. But, factor in the stellar performances and superior sound quality, and Some Other Time now stands as an essential piece to Evans’ long career. —Tony Peters