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The companion piece to The Last Waltz box, this revelatory 8-CD set was issued in Europe and Japan briefly, but none of these performances have been heard in any form in the US! Recorded with Bill's final trio-Marc Johnson on bass and Joe LaBarbera on drums-at the Keystone Korner in San Francisco between August 31 and September 7, 1980, this set contains 68 impassioned performances of 28 tunes, in similar yet never redundant versions. Nine Evans originals join My Romance; Days of Wine and Roses; Like Someone in Love; Song from M*A*S*H* (Suicide Is Painless); You and the Night and the Music ; Paul Simon's I Do It for Your Love ; Bobbie Gentry's Mornin' Glory ; Gary McFarland's Gary's Theme , and more.
Milestone's second eight-disc collection of Bill Evans's next-to-last nightclub engagement at San Francisco's Keystone Korner contains some of the influential jazz pianist's most creative and impassioned playing extant. Inspired by his strong and fervently supportive rhythm section of bassist Marc Johnson and drummer Joe LaBarbera, each selection on these eight discs attests to the pianist's vitally transformed style. Evans's singular, pastel-tinted chord voicings now emerge in bolder, primary colors, and his penchant for rhythmically displacing phrases against the basic meter reaches dizzying heights. Note the jagged urgency of his extended piano intro to "My Romance" (in no less than six similar yet never redundant versions), the newfound dynamism in ballads like "Polka Dots and Moonbeams" and "My Foolish Heart," and plenty of hard, unfettered swinging. After a hailstorm of notes gush from Evans's solo on "Someday My Prince Will Come," it as if Clark Kent has changed into Superman before your eyes and ears. Such uplifting artistry is amazing from a pianist who was seriously ill and had less than two weeks to live. --Jed Distler