Man, the gods of jazz must've been reading all my FAME kvetching 'n squalling about the second-citizen status of the instrument 'cause the last coupla years have seen a marked increase in presence and command for that liquid instrument blending sax and trumpet. 'Still', you might be tempted say, o reader, 'Bill Evans memorialized on 'bone, organ, guitar, and drums…really?' Oh hell yes!, I answer, and he must be laughing his ass off up in the clouds, rejoicing, delighted anyone would dare the act and succeed so well. 'Finally,' he is himself celebrating, 'someone saw that side and added bit of funk besides!' Yep, even the angels have their street angles.
The formerly audiophile-only Unseen Rain label, an imprint which specializes in the ne plus ultra of sonic technology, so strongly dug the unexpected nature of this ensemble that it made their sessions the first CD in the product line. The point, y'see, is that it's JAZZ! You're not supposed to be a letter perfect cloning stamp-press covers band when you're serious about your work, you're supposed to take things a step further, maybe five steps, ten if you can, and this one's a ten stepper just in terms of audacity, let alone chops. And brashness rules the day as the Hammond intro to Waltz for Debby more than amply demonstrates, a cross between rainy night dive and hip church recital completely re-creating the song. Then Hall jumps in and takes things up a notch but never into the classicalist milieu Bill so favored, instead yanking out what the foursome clearly sees in Evans' music.
The result is Bill after he's knocked back a few, undone his tie, and decided to throw off the formalisms for feel-good loosey-goosey jazz. Greg 'Organ Monk' Lewis is the Hammond cat, Marvin Sewell wields an old school (Ellis, Kessel, Montgomery) swingin' guitar, and Mike Campenni sits behind the drum kit with a light but expressive hand, punctuating and embellishing more than rhythm sectioning. Though most of the disc is Evans' music, I think my favorite track is Rodgers & Hart's Spring is Here, a comp Evans loved. Hall's version is so damn unorthodox, something you'd expect to hear in a really urban stage play, that it stuns. It's almost unholy how much the song is twisted, but, man, what a glorious interpretation. The entire gig is that way, so if you're looking for a one-liner encapsulization, forget it!, can't be done, just jump into the deep end of the pool with the rest of us, but don't forget to grab that double shot of scotch 'n soda before you do. You'll need it.
A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker