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!