Jazz Friday: Bill Evans Treasures

Bill Evans is one of the best pianists ever to play jazz. He was the moving force behind Miles Davis’ outstanding Kind of Blue album. I once heard that Miles would sometimes call Bill and ask him to lay the telephone receiver on the piano and just play.

Bill was famous in his day and, as a result, got plenty of gigs. As a result, we’ve been getting plenty of previously-unreleased Bill Evans recordings, but a recent one, Bill Evans Treasures, is fantastic. It’s a series of recordings made in Denmark over four years (1965–1969).

There is a bunch of trio work and some features he did with the Royal Danish Symphony Orchestra and the Danish Radio Big Band. It is those recordings that I can’t stop listening to. Arranged by Palle Mikkelborg, the orchestrations are a fascinating showcase for Bill’s piano. You also can’t help but note how his playing changes with the bigger ensembles. It makes me wish more of the greats of that era had the opportunity to play in bigger groups like this and how they would have sounded. This album is a new favorite for me and can be a great start or addition to your Bill Evans collection.