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.
Church musicians, especially of the Anglican/Episcopal persuasion, should be happy that there's at least one person out there writing first-rate, functional, and very accessible (in the best sense) anthems and service music–music that dedicated, competent choirs and organists can perform to a high standard. Some listeners may recognize Grayston Ives (nom de plume of Bill Ives) for his years (in the 1980s) with the King's Singers where he both sang and contributed as an arranger.
Townes Van Zandt played to a standing room-only crowd in Nashville on April 19, 1985, when he recorded Live & Obscure at 12th and Porter. The show was billed as "the return of the lost sheep of the songwriting fold." The rambling Texas troubadour did not disappoint his fans, peers, and colleagues that night (or any other). In this intimate setting, Van Zandt's aw-shucks charm comes through not just his songs, but his in-between banter. Luckily, he failed to heed his mother's advice to not talk, just play and sing. Another beauty that appears in a raw setting such as this is of the songs themselves.
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."