THE COMPLETE BILL EVANS ON VERVE is an 18-disc, 269-track box set featuring every track that Bill Evans recorded for Verve between 1962 and 1969, including 98 previously-unreleased tracks. It includes a 160-page, full-color book. THE COMPLETE BILL EVANS ON VERVE was nominated for a 1998 Grammy Award for Best Recording Package - Boxed and for Best Historical Album. The 18 CDs in this exhaustive set provide a comprehensive picture of Bill Evans from 1962 to 1969, a period when the pianist was both consolidating his fame and sometimes taking his music into untested waters, from unaccompanied piano to symphony orchestra. His work with multitracked solo piano, originally released as Conversations with Myself and the later Further Conversations with Myself, was the most remarkable new format for his introspective music. It gave Evans a way to be all the pianists he could be at once–combining densely chordal, harmonically oblique parts with surprising, rhythmic punctuation and darting, exploratory runs.
In the '60s the jazz pianist Bill Evans would occasionally record an orchestral "easy listening" session to pay the bills, with predictably mediocre results. But FROM LEFT TO RIGHT, while certainly easy on the ears, is also one of Evans' most intriguing "lost" records, brought to us courtesy of Verve's winning "By Request" series. The novelty is that Evans plays both Fender Rhodes and acoustic piano simultaneously in real time, trading off themes and improvs with deliberative taste and, of course, rare skill. The sessions were produced by Evans' long-time, protective manager Helen Keane, so there was little danger of "selling out."
German-born composer and arranger Claus Ogerman, born in 1930, must rank as one of the most versatile musicians of the twentieth century. When he was at his peak in the 1970s, writing everything from ballet scores to arrangements for Brazilian composer Antonio Carlos Jobim, diva Barbra Streisand, and jazz/R&B saxophonist George Benson, there was hardly a radio station on the dial where his music wasn't heard during the course of a typical day – and he's still quite active. The key to his success has been his ability to stay in the background behind the musician he's working with and yet create something distinctive. This 1982 collaboration with the late jazz saxophonist Michael Brecker is one of his most successful works, not least because the overlap between the extended harmonies of jazz and the chromaticism of the late German Romantic polyphony in which Ogerman was trained is large enough to allow Brecker to operate comfortably – his improvisations seem to grow naturally out of the background, and the intersections between jazz band and orchestral strings come more easily here than on almost any other crossover between jazz and classical music.
During the seven year span at Riverside that launched his career, Bill Evans only twice recorded outside his customary trio format: in the summer of 1962, when he went into the studio in quintet settings involving some of the major jazz artists of the period. The results are combined in this package. #1-6 originally issued as Interplay (Riverside 445). #7-13 originally issued as part of The Interplay Sessions double-LP (Milestone 47055), as previously unreleased selections.
The two LP editions recorded at this Paris concert were the last examples of Bill Evans' playing to be released at the time. With bassist Marc Johnson and drummer Joe La Barbera, Evans had one of the strongest trios of his career, as can be heard on such pieces as Edition One's "My Romance," "I Loves You, Porgy," and "Beautiful Love." The close communication between the players is reminiscent of Evans' 1961 unit with Scott LaFaro and Paul Motian.