Jan 212012

Today’s Fresh Catch is the Bill Evans Trio’s in Helsinki 1970 on DVD. Like The Oslo Concerts DVD, you will not want to miss this DVD, which is available from Amazon.com for just $18.99 USD.

Speaking of The Oslo Concerts be sure to read Laurie Verchomin’s response to that post here for a link to the significance of that time in Bill’s and her life. Also, be sure to get a copy of Laurie’s book about Bill and their life together, The Big Love: Life & Death with Bill Evans, which is also available at Amazon for $19.95.

The Bill Evans Trio’s in Helsinki 1970 is really something special. It’s not a concert per se but rather a home performance that Bill, Eddie Gomez (bass), and Marty Morell (drums) did for Finnish composer Ilkka Taneli Kuusisto and a few friends. You will not buy this DVD for the quality of the video footage, but like all of the Trio’s music you will not be disappointed in their playing.

I’ll tell you what really endears this DVD to my heart is the bonus film that is included on the DVD The Universal Mind of Bill Evans featuring commentary by Steve Allen and an absolutely amazing interview of Bill by his brother Harry Evans in 1966 in New York. In Harry’s interview Bill and Harry reminisce about the evolution of Bill’s music over the years – it is absolutely priceless! During the interview Harry has Bill discuss and demonstrate the creative process that is jazz on the piano while playing Star Eyes and it absolutely blew my mind. Bill starts with 8 measures using only the right hand melody (A), then Harry has Bill play A again with the basic left hand harmony added in. Then Harry has Bill play the bridge (B), then go back and play A again to conclude the tune. Then Harry has Bill play Star Eyes again with Bill’s own jazz harmonies underneath it, and again the result is beautiful. Next Harry has Bill go to the next level in the creative process and improvise over the melody in A, and then Harry goes on to explain how every element of the rhythm, harmony, and melody is improvised on by Bill as he plays. Seeing Star Eyes taken from its most basic form to a jazz masterpiece layer-by-layer as Bill adds in his creative process is astonishing to behold – it’s a beautiful magic!

If you love the music of Bill Evans like I do, you will absolutely want to have this DVD in your collection, it will change the way you think about jazz forever. I expect I’ll be watching the discussion of what jazz is between Harry and Bill over and over for quite a while to come, as it is the most stunningly insightful glimpse into what the creative process of jazz is that I have ever come across.

The highest recommendation!

 Posted by at 7:24 am

  4 Responses to “Today’s Fresh Catch: Bill Evans Trio – in Helsinki 1970 on DVD – a wow!”

  1. Just ordered! Looking forward to this one!

    • You’re going to love it Jonathan! The interview of Bill by Harry makes this DVD worth way more than it’s asking price. Man, what a find!

  2. Jeff,

    The Bill Evan’s Helsinki DVD arrived today. I’ve been playing it in the background in my office.

    You know, FWIW, the Helsinki disc is a nice contrast to the Oslo disc. And while I think I prefer the Oslo disc because it incorporates 2 beautiful performances, the Helsinki disc is curiously interesting and inviting in a very different way. I actually find that it sort of draws you in to the apartment suite, as though you’re right there sitting in your own chair or on the couch. And then the breaks in each set where Bill starts sharing are incredible. I can’t wait to get home tonight and run this through my system and start sipping a nice glass of red wine!

    So kudos on finding this little gem!

    PS Did you happen to catch the cameras used on this? There are a few shots where they have those monster production cameras that you might see on a TV set. Really cool. I bet this was a huge production back then! Also, the audio is pretty nice, too! More comments on that tonight when I get it into my system.

    • Hey Jonathan,

      The music is good, but the treasure on the Helsinki disk for me is the interview of Bill by his brother Harry, the demo of Star Eyes, and Bill’s and Harry’s demonstration/explanation of what makes jazz what it is. Priceless and profound.



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