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Bill Evans Trio: The Oslo Concerts
Bill Evans Trio The Oslo Concerts
Genres: Music Video & Concerts
NR     2007     1hr 10min

Bill Evans was one of the most popular piano players in modern jazz, having recorded over 50 albums and received 31 Grammy nominations before his untimely death in 1980. He influenced virturally every jazz pianist who cam...  more »


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Movie Details

Genres: Music Video & Concerts
Sub-Genres: Pop, Jazz
Format: DVD - Color
DVD Release Date: 01/16/2007
Original Release Date: 01/01/2006
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2006
Release Year: 2007
Run Time: 1hr 10min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 3
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

Quintessential and absolutely essential: Best Value on Amazo
Samuel Chell | Kenosha,, WI United States | 03/13/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Separated in time but not space, these two recordings document the extraordinary musical distance between Bill's early and late trios. Before listening to either set in its entirety, go to "Nardis" on the early, then late concert date, and brace yourself for a visual (and, of course, musical) shock. Now play both concerts in their entirety and be prepared for sublime music on a level beyond anything since Evans' passing.

Sure, it's not the '61 trio with LaFaro and Motian, but it's exquisite Evans nonetheless, even on the '66 recording, made shortly after Gomez had joined the group and with Alex Riel, a European "guest" drummer. No matter. Bill's in control yet letting the music take him where it will. His lines are sharply etched and cut a swinging groove, especially on "Very Early" and "Stella." Riel stays with brushes throughout, inflicts little damage, and at least catches the Powell-like groove favored by Bill on the occasion. Gomez is the weak link, each of his solos another showy exhibition of flying fingers. But he lays down a smooth carpet for each of Bill's solos.

The 2nd date is another miraculous performance of the many that were recorded of Bill's trio during that final year. The music will take you to places that no other performer in the jazz idiom has ever visited--dark, disturbing, achingly beautiful. Marc Johnson and Joe LaBarbara are with Evans for each step of the journey. Though the bassist employs an exaggerated sustain and overdoes the left-hand portamentos, he's clearly building on the pianist's ideas, and he's always grounding his statements with recurrent lower-string reminders of a tonal center. Unlike Gomez, Johnson doesn't merely impress; he draws you into the music. LaBarbara goes to the sticks and plays with the emotional power that the music on this date calls for.

An interview with Bill following the 2nd date is telling on many levels--a valuable addition to the DVD.

The audio is pristine on both dates. LaBarbara's cymbals may be attenuated more than necessary, but that's a small quibble. The visual element is equally strong on both occasions, with stable, tripod camera set-ups and judicious shot selections that rarely detract from the music. (OK, a few gratuitous cutaways to audience faces.)

In short, the only thing that would make this session any better would be the inclusion of a set from the '61 Vanguard sessions. But nothing in this life is perfect.

At fifteen dollars the price is five bucks under what I paid, making it less expensive than many ordinary CDs. There's nothing ordinary about either of these concerts. Even "extraordinary" is inadequate to describe the music on the disk because the term connotes comparisons with other musical performances, whether ordinary or not. Evans was simply a category, a universe unto himself. If comparisons are required, start with Verdi's Requiem, Mahler's Third, Rachmaninoff's late Russian romanticism (as player and composer), the last two pages of Joyce's "The Dead," Mann's "Death in Venice," Keats' Odes, Blake's "The Tyger," Shostakovich's "Danse Macabre," Nietzsche's "The Birth of Tragedy," Ravel's expressionism in the manic second half of "La Valse." The man simply took a popular musical form to another level, generously leaving behind an example of what is "possible"--whether a blessing or a curse remains to be settled."
Early and late Evans
Brian Whistler | Forestville, CA United States | 06/13/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This may be the best concert DVD of Bill Evans out there. As such, Evans lovers will be relieved to know that it is quite a good snapshot of two distinct phases of his career. The '66 concert has a young Evans playing a restrained but beautiful set with a young Eddie Gomez on bass and an unknown but relaxed drummer Alex Riel. The sound, although mono is well balanced and clean. The piano sound in particular is crystalline and bell like, ie an accurate rendering of the Evans golden touch. The camera work is spare and for the most part, unobtrusive.

In contrast, the 1980 show has surprisingly poor sound. The bass is the dominant instrument, the piano being too far back and the drums muddy and indistinct. The camera work is sloppy and brash, deliberately going for a distracting "artsy" shot of red light reflected off the cymbals, not once but several times. Ahh, but the performance-that is another story.

This concert was shot about a month before Bill's death, and as anyone who has heard his last concerts at the Keystone knows, Bill was playing...well, as if his life depended on it. This is in stark contrast to his conservative performance of 1966.

Evans' evolution as an artist can be traced in a steady arc. Rather than reinvent himself like a Picasso (or closer to home,), a Miles Davis, Evans chose to build upon his earlier concepts, stretching and developing his areas of interests over the course of his brief life. We are given perfect example of this evolution in the two contrasting version of Nardis, a vehicle Evans played throughout his career. On the one hand, the '66 version is brief, spare and controlled, swinging to be sure, but contained. However, the 1980 version begins with a long rhapsodic solo exposition that would have Franz Liszt gaping in amazement at its sheer virtuosity. But behind the masterful pianism lies Evans the modernist- his harmonic and rhythmic structures have deepened. In this intro one can hear the evolution of 20th century music. Evans absorbed everything he heard and incorporated what he liked into his playing. One can hear echoes of Debussy, Bartok and Stravinsky, while at the same time the influences of McCoy Tyner and and Chick Corea are evident. To say that Bill had big ears is an understatement. Yet amidst this sea of influences, the Evans voice is clearly heard.

This was Evan's last trio, and by his own admission probably the best trio he had put together since he had worked with the late Scott LaFaro. Certainly Marc Johnson was the right bass player for the job. An agile and intuitive player with a skill for deep listening and a fat, warm sound, Johnson could often anticipate Bill's lines and get right in there with him, playing counterpoint or underlining a melody without stepping on the music. And Joe LaBarbara was a solid powerhouse, playing with sticks and hitting hard, generating the energy needed to support this later high octane Evans. Pity we can barely hear his ride cymbals here.

This is a must have for Evans' fans and so far the best video document of this important figure in the evolution of jazz. There is simply no jazz pianist after Bill who has not in some way been influenced by this humble giant. This DVD captures him doing what he did best and should not be missed. The bonus interview at the end of the 1980 concert makes for interesting viewing as well.

Highly recommended"
What a treat! Bill Evans in the flesh...
Henry S. Brent | Marietta, GA USA | 01/30/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This DVD includes his trio with Eddie Gomez and Alex Riel at the Oslo Munch Museum from October 1966 (B&W) and his last trio with Marc Johnson and Joe La Barbera at the 1980 Molde Jazz Festival (Color). Both concerts were beautifully shot by the Norwegian Broadcasting Company. 70 minutes of heaven. Sit back and be ready to be mesmerized. A must for every jazz fan who never saw Bill and wants to confirm what all the fuss was about."
stranger2himself | Down Here | 04/07/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Camera work and audio are excellent in both, though the bright lights of the 1980 concert occasionally overwhelm. I wish "Stella" and "Autumn Leaves" had gone much longer. Alex Riel is excellent, but I've always loved drummers who understand brushes, and he reminds me of Paul Motian, a sort of quiet storm. Eddie Gomez may be a little flashy, but his command of the instrument is amazing. Marc Johnson's tone is deep and dark, but this may be related to his use of the contact mike-pickup, as opposed to the standard microphone used by Gomez in 1960. For me Joe LaBarbera's drumming is less inspired than the brush work of Riel, but one could also make the case that the more powerful sound of sticks increases the energy level appropriately.
Which brings me to the playing of Bill Evans. It is the definition of modern jazz, and in my estimation is the highest art of the second half of the poor old 20th century. It is not necessary to view Evans work in terms of what was to come later, because later developments may be good or bad. Evans' work is a world, a universe. The product of a supremely musical mind. It is nothing less than a miracle that one can "own" the art of Bach, Mozart or Bill Evans for less than the cost of a tank of gas. If you want to hear, and see, the best, here it is."