Tales: Tales: Live in Copenhagen (1964)
Release Date: November 24, 2023
Label: Elemental Music
Tales is the 11th package of previously unreleased Evans material produced by Zev Feldman, the award-winning “Jazz Detective,” in partnership with Elemental’s Carlos Agustin Camembert and Jordi Soley, and fully authorized by the Bill Evans Estate. It is a sequel to Elemental Music’s previous collection Treasures, a widely praised set of 1965-69 Evans recordings made in Denmark in trio, solo, and orchestral settings that the label produced for Record Store Day this April.
Feldman says in his introduction to the album, “These 11 tracks are glorious, a gift for all of us to relish these many decades after Bill’s physical departure from this earth. It’s thrilling for me to see these recordings come out, extending a welcoming hand to jazz fans who are just exploring Bill Evans’s music for the first time. Tales is a wonderful document that captures the spirit, essence, and beauty of what Bill Evans was all about.”
The album — six tracks cut in a studio setting at Radiohuset and five captured before an audience at TV City — feature Evans’ 1964-65 trio of Israels, who was hired by the pianist to replace Scott LaFaro following his tragic death in a 1961 car crash, and Bunker, who joined the group permanently after Paul Motion’s departure from the group after a December 1963 studio date.
In his detailed notes, Myers notes that the material on Tales is “the earliest known recording of Bill Evans performing in Europe. Recorded in the summer of 1964 during his first tour abroad with a trio…these tracks also are remarkable for being among the very finest work by this ensemble. There’s even a standard [“I Didn’t Know What Time It Was”] that was recorded for the first time and never appeared in the Evans discography again.”
Myers says that Evans hit upon a combination with his new rhythm players that reprised the breathtakingly simpatico interplay of his most famous trio of the late ‘50s and early ‘60s: “Ever since he formed his first working trio in 1959 with Scott LaFaro on bass and Paul Motion on drums, Evans was determined to have all members of his group converse musically as peers within the structure of songs….[Evans, Israels and Bunker] play as if they were a single emotional expression. Their musical exchanges are bright and bouncy, performing flawlessly and organically together and during solos.
In his interview with Feldman, Israels reflects on the unique experience of playing with jazz’s great lyrical master: “I was just so glad to be part of Bill’s musical design: the texture of how that trio worked; how Bill planned the music; how he set it up so that you could fit yourself in with personal expression and freedom to find nuances and details that occurred to you…There have been few musical circumstances — maybe not any — that have felt like playing in the trio, especially with Larry.”
He also praises the sound of his mid-‘60s band mate: “Larry Bunker was an extraordinary musician. There was a transparency to the sound of Larry’s playing. Larry was like a race car driver in terms of finesse. He was a very well-trained musician with impeccable hearing. He understood everything going on more than I did.”
Brandyn Bunker notes to Feldman that her husband, who died in 2005, was a versatile player who sported talents that extended beyond jazz to work with pop music stars, on film scores, and with classical orchestras.
“Larry was able to adapt to practically any musical situation,” she says. “What allowed him to be such an essential participant in world-class music across all these genres was his perception and musical sensitivity, his ability to adapt to whatever was required, to fulfill that and then to bring even more of himself creatively to whatever was asked of him.”
Summarizing this latest revelatory entry in the Evans catalog, Israels says, “These recordings are really satisfying to me because I hear us at a level of comfort and understanding of what we’re doing. That brings a great deal of freedom and expressive possibilities. We could skirt danger a little closer because we knew we had a grip on these things. There’s a lot of risk that only comes when you’re confident you’ll be able to ski within the slalom gates. You’ll get close to the edge, but you won’t miss the gate.”
Treasures: Solo, Trio and Orchestra Recordings from Denmark (1965-1969)
Label: Elemental Music
Record Store Day Release Date: April 22, 2023
CD and Digital: April 28, 2023
Treasures: Solo, Trio and Orchestra Recordings from Denmark (1965-1969) is a limited, 180-gram three-LP set mastered by Bernie Grundman and a diverse new collection of previously unreleased recordings by jazz piano master Bill Evans.
The collection, which compiles music that has gone unheard since its debut on Danish radio, succeeds Elemental’s widely praised 2021 Evans set Behind the Dikes: The 1969 Netherlands Recordings. It is the tenth collection of hitherto unheard music by the pianist authorized by the Bill Evans Estate and produced by Zev Feldman, a partner in Elemental and the award-winning music archeologist known as “the Jazz Detective.”
Feldman says, “Treasures comes as a result of the great investigative work of my co-producers, Jordi Soley and Carlos Agustín Calembert of Elemental Music, who spent a tremendous amount of time scouring various Danish archives for lost tapes. None of these recordings has ever been released before. They are being heard for the very first time since the original radio broadcasts that aired in the 1960s.”
The diverse trove of unearthed material, drawn from the private collection of Danish producer Ole Matthiessen, includes inspired 1965 performances by Evans in a trio format with bassist Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen and drummers Alan Dawson and Alex Riel; stunning 1965 solo studio recordings for Danish radio; an ambitious 1969 orchestral suite arranged and conducted by trumpeter Palle Mikkelborg, featuring the pianist with his working trio mates, bassist Eddie Gomez and drummer Marty Morell, and the Royal Danish Symphony Orchestra and the Danish Radio Big Band; and 1966 and 1969 trios with Riel, Gomez, and Morell.
As with all previous issues of unreleased Evans produced by Feldman, Treasures will be complemented by a deluxe booklet. Illustrated with previously unpublished photographs from the Danish tours by Jan Persson, the package will include an overview by Evans scholar Marc Myers; new interviews with Mikkelborg, Gomez, Morell, Riel, and Danish producer/discographer Peter Larsen; appreciations from pianists Matthew Shipp and Ran Blake; and biographical sketches of Pedersen and Dawson by John Koenig.
Myers says of this fertile period, “On this set, we hear Evans in 1965, 1966, and 1969 in different locations in Denmark, with varied ensembles that feature a range of superb sidemen. The joy of this set is that it offers us every type of performance configuration during an ambitious and poetic phase of his career, ranging from solo and trio recordings to orchestral interpretations. All document Evans’s steady ascent as a premier global jazz figure.”
Mikkelborg — renowned for his work as composer, arranger, and producer of Miles Davis’ late masterpiece Aura (1989) — says of his collaboration with the pianist, “Little did I know that in 1969 Per Møller Hansen, a Danish Radio music producer and a Bill Evans fan, would call me and ask if I would like to arrange and conduct a TV project with Bill Evans to be entitled Waltz for Debby. ‘Would I? My goodness! I would love to!’…I am so grateful that my suite is now available to a wider audience, and I give thanks to my guardian angel for these stellar moments.”
Producer Larsen, a veteran of Danish Radio Broadcasting, says of the remarkable orchestral date, “Palle Mikkelborg immediately captured the essence of Bill’s harmonic extensions. His arrangements were just great. Bill enjoyed it, obviously. I was there in the studio when they rehearsed and when they recorded. That was very, very, exhilarating to watch.”
Another unexpected member of Evans’ musical team during his Danish sojourns was drummer Riel, who was a regular member of Mikkelborg’s combo. He says, “I’m not sure how Bill knew of me back in 1965. All I know is that he asked for me when he came to Europe. By that time I’d already been working with a lot of American musicians like Ben Webster and Dexter Gordon in Copenhagen, so maybe he had heard of that. I couldn’t believe that I was going to play with the world’s greatest pianist. It was an honor and a privilege and it turned out to be a great pleasure too!”
Gomez and Morell, who worked together with Evans from 1968 to 1974, both share fond memories of their time in Copenhagen. Gomez says, “When I listen to recordings of the trio from this period — not to listen to myself, but to listen to what Bill was doing — it drives home the reality of just how wonderful, how great he was and what a high level he was at. He was just incredible.” Morell adds, “Copenhagen was like a dream. It was the most awesome situation for me at that time, at my age and at my time and place in the music business. It was euphoric. Here I am going to Europe playing with Bill Evans and Eddie Gomez. It was a thrill. It was absolutely wonderful.”
Shipp and Blake, both acknowledged masters of the piano, reflect on the enduring heft of Evans’ recorded legacy in their encomia.
“When you think of a piano trio it’s impossible not to think of Bill Evans, just impossible,” Shipp says. “He takes the whole space. He defines what a modern piano trio is. So on one level maybe Bud Powell might be my favorite trio pianist, but Bill Evans is just up front in the pantheon, defining the possibilities of a jazz trio or even the definition of a jazz trio. He’s up there.”
Blake notes, “Bill Evans was like a living example of French impressionism: the sounds the sea, the west coast of France, the richness of sounds he nurtured. His interaction with other musicians was extraordinary, the incredible ideas that he gives.”
GEORGE W. HARRIS
"The thrill here is seeing how (except for the concise “Five”) Evans and company take variances on the solos, pace and interlocutions." Read the review here.
THE VINYLE DISTRICT
"The Tales trio handles these songs distinctively but also with striking confidence, making it a superb entry point for newbies to this particular lineup. " Read the review here.
Check out this feature on recently unreleased albums featuring Bill's Tales: Live In Copenhagen here.
ALL ABOUT JAZZ
"Feldman mentions in the liner notes, "Tales is a wonderful document that captures the spirit, essence, and beauty of what Bill Evans was all about."" Read the full review here.
"It's not very often that a recording comes along from over half a century ago that has never been released before, but which can truly be said to be essential listening." Read the full review here.
ALL ABOUT JAZZ
""Waltz For Debby" springs out at the studio audience with a vibrancy and voltage that may have caught one and all off guard." Read the full review here.
THE BIG TAKE OVER
"Most of these are tunes that were common in Evans’ repertoire, but his skill as both improviser and bandleader keeps them fresh, no matter how many records on which they appear." Check out the full review here.
THE ART FUSE
"He’s an absolute pillar of inventive, sensitive, intelligent, and imaginative playing on every track, every session, every year. " Check out the full review here.
"One may well ask how deep is the well because this is Zev Feldman’s eleventh unearthed Bill Evans trio recording. An Evans’ recording now seems practically a given on RSD." Check out the full review here.
"Evans was a marvelous pianist with a cool, fluid touch on the previously unissued recordings gathered on Tales." Check out the full review here.
"It brings a lot of freedom and expressive possibilities." Check out the full review here.
"But what makes this particular recording noteworthy is that it is the first known recording of Evans in Europe and comes from his European tour in 1964" Check out the full review here.
"The innovative and expressive use of harmony, melody, and rhythm: all present with the chords and complex voicings and extensions." Check out the full review here.
THE AUDIO BEAT
"The greatness of Bill Evans is the product of his complex and moving playing, his long and rich recorded legacy, and his promotion and refinement of the piano trio." Check out the full review here.
"There was something about Denmark that brought out the best in Evans, who plays on a majority of this two-CD/three LP set with a relaxed, measured calm and a beauty that exceeds most of his other live recordings." Check out this feature on the new releases list here.
THE ART FUSE
"He’s an absolute pillar of inventive, sensitive, intelligent, and imaginative playing on every track, every session, every year." Read the full review here.
"Each man is heard in satisfying solo work and the interplay is exciting to behold." Check out this review here.
DANIEL A. BROWN
"Of the many formidable talents of 1960s jazz, Bill Evans embodied the ability to find clandestine ideas in a handful of chords, and perform them through raw emotion." Check out this review here.
"... after nearly a decade in Evans’ repertoire, feels loose and easy, yet precise." Read the full review here.
"On one piece, he might leave chasms of silence and finger each note with almost painful delicacy, and on another, his playing might be very dense, as if he’s compelled to explore every structural possibility simultaneously." Full review here.
"In the growing pantheon of unearthed Bill Evans recordings, Treasures: Solo, Trio & Orchestra Recordings From Denmark (1965–1969) comes in as a true amalgamation of what the great pianist and composer embraced." Read the Record Store Day article here.
"Once again, producer Zev Feldman has sniffed out more previously unreleased Evans than it’s possible to believe went unmined for all these decades.." Read the Record Store Day Most Wanted article here.
"Top-notch music then, and the superb sound quality and excellent packaging and booklet make this a must-buy." Read the full, 4-star review here.
NEW JERSEY JAZZ SOCIETY
"Treasures does indeed give the listeners many musical moments to treasure."
"The three-LP collection features solo and trio performances as well as an orchestra with reportedly great audio quality." Read the Record Store Day article here.
BEBOP SPOKEN HERE
"..this period in Evans' career could, perhaps, be regarded as the pianist at his best." Read the review here.
"This “holy grail” set of never-before-released recordings of legendary jazz pianist Bill Evans was taped with excellent sound quality either live or in Danish TV and radio studios in the mid- to late-1960s." Read the full Record Story Day feature here.
"In truth, it would make sense to title every archival release that the Bill Evans Estate has brought into the world Treasures." Full review here.
'This is a must-have Record Store Day Exclusive Release.." Read the full article here.
"The joy of this set is that it offers us every type of performance configuration during an ambitious and poetic phase of his career.." Read the full review in the Record Stay roundup here.
"Treasures: Solo, Trio & Orchestra Recordings from Denmark (1965-1969) is full of excellent renditions of songs that were staples of the repertoire of the musician who passed away back in 1980." Read the full review here.
LONDON JAZZ NEWS
"Bill Evans is a big inspiration to me.." Read Zev Feldman's full interview with Enos here.
"The mid sixties definitely saw Evans in a searching mode, but this is what makes artists grow, and the challenges Evans faced pushed him to seek out new ideas and outlets." Review here.
THE ARTS FUSE
"..this is a gem among the current crop of Evans releases." Read the review here.
Read the review in German in the May 2023 print issue.
Read the review in French in the May 2023 print issue.
"The performances – by Evans and the brilliant musicians with him – are spellbinding.." Review here.
RECORD COLLECTOR MAGAZINE
"..a bewitching 2CD trove.." Read the 4-star review in the May 2023 print issue.
Read the review in Italian in the May 2023 print issue.
ALL ABOUT JAZZ
"..savor it and savor this indelible 2cd (3lp) set of Evans' intimate magic brought to us by the the intrepid investigative team of master jazz sleuth, Zev Feldman." Review here.
"Every time he revisits his repertoire, be it originals or covers, the moment feels fresh, newly born, and brimming with possibility." Read the full feature here.
THE NEW YORK SUN
"It seems almost impossible to imagine that we’ll ever reach the point of saturation — not when the “new” music we are hearing for the first time is as good as this." Read the full feature here.
DARK BLUE NOTES
"With Very Early, Rubalcaba reminds us how important Bill Evanswas not only as a leader and pianist but also as a composer." Read the full article in here.
"The repertoire on Borrowed Roses includes classic songs by Cole Porter, the Gershwins and Billy Strayhorn along with jazz standards by Bill Evans, Dave Brubeck, Duke Ellington and Chick Corea. The recording took place over two days of highly focused seven-hour sessions. " Check out the full article here.
NEW YORK JAZZ RECORD
"Evans is superb on every track, hitting that special balance of sonic beauty and emotional sensitivity, swinging forcefully and, in the trio settings, hitting some surprising plateaus of intensity." Read the full review here.
"Treasures is Zev Feldman’s latest CD, a collection of previously unreleased Bill Evans solo, trio and orchestra recordings made in Denmark from 1965 to 1969." Read the full review here.