Resonance Records proudly released Bill Evans Live at Ronnie Scott’s, the label’s 3rd collection featuring unheard recordings by the great pianist’s short-lived 1968 trio with bassist Eddie Gomez & drummer Jack DeJohnette, as a 2-LP Record Store Day exclusive on Black Friday, November 27. The album will subsequently be released as a 2-CD set and a digital download on December 4th. Unearthed by Resonance co-president Zev Feldman (a/k/a “the Jazz Detective”), Some Other Time: The Lost Session From the Black Forest (2016) was a two-LP/two-CD studio date, cut five days after the Evans-Gomez-DeJohnette trio’s Montreux appearance, which had sat unheard in the German vaults for 50 years. A 2nd historic discovery, Another Time (2018), was recorded two days later by the Netherlands Radio Union in Hilversum. Drawn from Jack DeJohnette’s personal archives, Live at Ronnie Scott’s comprises 20 scintillating tracks captured during the Evans trio’s month-long ’68 residency at the eponymous saxophonist-impresario’s Soho club. (It is Resonance’s second live Evans album to emanate from that venue: 2019’s Evans in England derived from a 1969 stand at Scott’s, featuring Gomez and drummer Marty Morell.) Recordings by the Evans-Gomez-DeJohnette lineup are as prized as they are rare. Mr. DeJohnette was an especially simpatico accompanist for Evans, for he had been a pianist before taking up the drums. Despite their chemistry, the trio played together for a mere 6 months. During their stay at Scott’s, Miles Davis stopped in to check out the band, and the trumpeter swiftly recruited DeJohnette for his new group. By the end of 1968, Morell was hired by Evans as his replacement, and he drummed behind the pianist through 1974. Distinguished British critic, author, broadcaster, & pianist Brian Priestley, who witnessed Evans’ ’68 trio in action, puts the London stand and Evans’ then-current repertoire in context in newly commissioned notes for the release. He writes that the performances’ “compelling, indeed at times overwhelming, musical quality is such as to impress this listener all over again. Live at Ronnie Scott’s also features a joint interview, conducted by Feldman, with DeJohnette and Grammy-winning pianist (and, in his early career, drummer) Chick Corea, who played with DeJohnette in Miles Davis’ storied late-‘60s lineups. And as with all of Resonance Records releases, the packaging/artwork & provided documented history makes this yet another “must have” to any music lovers collection. Bill Evans Live at Ronnie Scott’s will be the fifth Resonance title to feature unreleased music by the pianist: 2014’s Live at Art D’Lugoff’s Top of the Gate was the label’s first Evans collection. Smile With Your Heart: The Best of Bill Evans on Resonance, a mid-priced compilation, was issued in 2020.
I had the honor of chatting with the legendary, Mr. Jack DeJohnette about this release. We get into the time and place of its creation. How Mr. Evans was creatively at the top of his playing game and how fortunate we are that these recordings made it to all of us, with some fine cleaning up work, we get to re-live and re-feel moments that many of us never shared in originally. Mr. DeJohnette and I also talk a little about working within the change on a moment stylings of Miles Davis as well an naming off a few artists he sees as carrying on that ability to create in any situation, and how they can find some cracks in structure to find freedom.