This year when thinking about piano jazz we have been more into Bill Evans than ever. That was partly through spending the summer immersed in the great pianist's albums with Tony Bennett. They are a joy. But of course there is so much more.
Retrospective projects abound and feed the flame. In recent years we loved Bruno Heinen and Kristian Borring's tack on the subject landing on the collaboration between the Kind of Blue pianist and Jim Hall on Undercurrent and Intermodulation heard on Postcard to Bill Evans musically colour coded immaculately blue in green as they journeyed deep into the inspirational world of the pianist-composer.
Omicron-permitting January sees the great Norma Winstone and Ivor-winning Nikki Iles Dines-dancing down the Pizza with Stan Sulzmann and Dave Green and their 'A Time Remembered: The Music Of Bill Evans' on 13 January.
As for new records we love this from the Québécois band of tenorist Frank Lozano, the very elegant pianist François Bourassa, bassist Michel Donato and drummer Pierre Tanguay who have dipped in the waters of Evansiana before on 2011's Autour de Bill Evans that has a lovely if slightly over-indulgent version (returning to thoughts of Tony Bennett and Evans) of 'Days of Wine and Roses.'
The whole thing re:Bill Evans whether italicised or not and neat titling eh of course makes you think of Re: Person I Knew (and 'T.T.T' from that 1981-released Fantasy live album recorded seven years earlier is a nod to this) and certainly begins audaciously and just perfectly as it turns out as if hearing the sounds while standing at the bar and knowing you've in exactly the right place with Donato's vibrato-warm sound invites you to linger as the Bourassa chords point ever more recognisably towards 'You Must Believe in Spring.'
'Nardis' later has a very avant opening and the whole thing hovers beyond limiting views of perceived sub-genre. That's why Evans is so loved: the avantists get it ('Twelve tone tune' after all figures to a T in this regard, say), the daddio pipes and slippers jazzers of a certain age think it's hipper than most of their listening (which of course it is and always was). And bands of any generation can do things to Evans that actually do not strip away their own identity or risk sounding dated or coming over deliberately recherché.
Lozano has a lot of personality in his timbre and is a bit like Stan Sulzmann (a neat link to the upcoming Pizza Bill-in OK, but true if you know even a bubble or two of a Sulz sud). All in all this is delivered with a lot of love and is extremely well-played. Tone and nuance is all.
The album is relatively hard to find even on Bandcamp. Here's the link. On Spotify it's under the misnomer of ''Various Artists'' which again means it's not immediately obvious when looking.