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Bill Evans Jim Hall'
Undercurrent (Pure Pleasure)This is the first of two superb albums recorded by Bill Evans, and guitarist Jim Hall, and it was recorded over two sessions in April and May 1962. Arrangements simply for piano and guitar are rare in Jazz, and it is even more seldom that the results are truly inspiring and as musically worthwhile as in this case. It is usual for intuitive musical relationships to develop over a number of years, but here we find two musicians who clearly shared an immediate understanding.
Both men are on absolute top form here - Bill Evans was on fire throughout the early and mid sixties, and after the tragic death of his previous musical partner, virtuoso bass player Scott Le Faro (at the age of 23), he was searching for new directions. Jim Hall is a guitarist of tremendous skill and powerful technique, with a highly developed rhythmic and harmonic sense that shines through on this album. What is so special about the performances here is an almost telepathic anticipation of where the music is heading - both musicians contribute equally, and there is a constant exchange of ideas, each reacting to the other with apparent ease, whatever the mood.
This is a brilliant jazz album, of great depth and tremendous atmosphere, and both players express some exceptional ideas. Highly recommended.
- Bill Evans (piano)
- Jim Hall (guitar)
Recording: April & May 1962 at Sound Makers, New York, by Bill Schwartau
About Pure Pleasure
At the beginning of the 90s, in the early days of audiophile vinyl re-releases, the situation was fairly straightforward. Companies such as DCC, Mobile Fidelity, Classic Records and, of course, Pure Pleasure all maintained a mutual, unwritten ethical code: we would only use analogue tapes to manufacture records.
During the course of the present vinyl hype, many others have jumped on the bandwagon in the hope of securing a corner of the market. Very often they are not so ethical and use every imaginable source to master from: CDs, LPs, digital files, MP3s - or employed existent tools from the 80s and 90s for manufacturing.
A digital delay is gladly used when cutting a lacquer disc because tape machines with an analogue delay have become quite rare and are therefore expensive. When cutting the lacquer, the audio signal is delayed by one LP revolution against the signal, which controls the cutter head, and for this a digital delay is very often employed. Of course, the resultant sound signal is completely digital and thus only as good as this delay.
We should like to emphasize that Pure Pleasure Records on principle only uses the original master tape as the basis for the entirely analogue cutting of lacquer discs. In addition, the pressing tool is newly manufactured as a matter of principle.
We only employ existing tools for manufacturing if an improved result is not forthcoming, e.g. the title Elvis Is Back, which was mastered by Steve Hoffman and Kevin Gray, or several titles from our Philips Classics series, which in any case Willem Makkee cut from the original masters at the Emil Berliner Studios in the 90s. It goes without saying that we only used the mother and that new tools were made for our production.
To put it in a nutshell: we can ensure you that our releases are free from any kind of digital effects and that the lacquer discs are newly cut.
This title is not eligible for discount.1. My Funny Valentine
2. I Hear A Rhapsody
3. Dream Gypsy
5. Skating In Central Park
6. Darn That Dream$34.99180 Gram Audiophile Virgin Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
UndercurrentUndercurrent on Numbered Limited Edition LP from Mobile Fidelity Silver Label
Introspective, Almost-Hallucinogenic 1962 Album a Pinnacle for Both Jazz Icons
Guitarist Hall Aids Pianist Evans in Rebounding from Tragedy
Diverse Set Encompasses Ballads, Waltzes, Hard-Swinging Bop
Divine Sonics: LP Mastered on Mobile Fidelity's World-Renowned Mastering System and Pressed at RTI
Bill Evans catapulted to the top of the jazz world in June 1961 after reeling off three straight masterpiece sessions at New York's Village Vanguard with his trio. Yet the emotional highs came to a screeching halt shortly thereafter when bassist Scott LaFaro died in a car accident. Devastated, Evans refrained from playing for nearly a year. If not for an inspirational collaboration of tremendous creative outpouring, one wonders what fate may have befallen Evans. Undercurrent, the outcome of two studio sessions with guitarist Jim Hall, is that project.
Mastered on Mobile Fidelity's world-renowned mastering system and pressed at RTI, this Silver Label LP edition bursts forth with brilliant textures, you-are-there realism, and extraordinary tonalities. No other version outside of this analog copy brings you face-to-face with these two jazz giants' sonic communion, a kind of spiritual musical summit on which Evans' deft keyboard touches and Hall's reliably subtle phrasings seamlessly mesh and wonderfully dance, the compositions streaked with natural instrumental decay, full-frequency extensions, and poignant emotionalism that, on this LP, you can feel.
While Evans managed to sit down for a few one-off takes between LaFaro's passing and these April-May 1962 dates, he largely remained on hiatus and abstained from recording. Whether it owes to the intimate pairing, he and Hall's brotherly chemistry, or the exquisite selection of program material, the results consistently come across as the equivalent of a private meditation-such is the level of introspective depth and quietly shaded interplay throughout. For Evans, the duet clearly functions as therapy, a healing episode in which his partner patiently lays back, shadowing moves and suggesting others, neither musician interested in the spotlight but each striving for (and achieving) transcendent beauty.
In tackling standards such as Rodgers and Hart's "My Funny Valentine" and the Broadway classic "Darn That Dream," as well as the Hall original "Romain," the pair traverses complex harmonies with the astute elegance of a figure skater. At times, Evans and Hall go for broke on a hard-swinging romps, yet it's their implied melancholy and drifting, softly struck melodic refrains on waltzes and ballads that bestows Undercurrent with a nuanced romanticism and whispered atmosphere befitting the record's title.
Indeed, even the album's cover-an iconic photograph by Toni Frissell-exhibits the surreal, almost-hallucinogenic properties of the fare contained within.
This title is not eligible for discount.1. My Funny Valentine
2. I Hear a Rhapsody
3. Dream Gypsy
5. Skating in Central Park
6. Darn That Dream$24.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
InterplayOne of Bill Evans' only recordings issued during his pivotal early years (1956-1964) without his trio. Adding trumpet and guitar to create an unusual quintet alignment, concentrating on standard tunes, and with brighter tempos than are generally associated with his playing, it is a uniquely valuable addition to the catalog of perhaps the most important pianist in modern jazz. With Freddie Hubbard, Jim Hall, Percy Heath and Philly Joe Jones.1. You and the Night and the Music
2. When You Wish upon a Star
3. I'll Never Smile Again [take 7; original take]
4. I'll Never Smile Again [take 6]
6. You Go to My Head
7. Wrap Your Troubles in Dreams (And Dream Your Troubles Away)$21.99Vinyl LP Reissue - Sealed Buy Now
Arms & HandsCornetist and composer Kirk Knuffke is one of modern jazz's most skilled navigators of the divide between inside and outside, freedom and swing. On his latest album, Arms & Hands, he assembles the ideal trio to bridge that divide. Joined by bassist Mark Helias and drummer Bill Goodwin, along with special guests Brian Drye (trombone), Daniel Carter (alto saxophone), and Jeff Lederer (soprano/tenor saxophone), Knuffke creates a set of music that is both engaging and inventive.
Helias is best known for his work with jazz experimentalists like Anthony Braxton, Cecil Taylor, Marilyn Crispell, and Gerry Hemingway, his band BassDrumBone with Hemingway and Ray Anderson, and his trio Open Loose with Tony Malaby and Tom Rainey. Goodwin, on the other hand, is recognized as a premiere straight-ahead drummer, through his decades-long relationship with saxophonist Phil Woods and credits that include such giants as Bill Evans, Tony Bennett, Dexter Gordon, Jim Hall, Gary Burton, and Art Pepper.
The chemistry between the trio is irrefutable on Arms & Hands, which is a showcase for the immense creativity of all three musicians. Knuffke intentionally wrote compositions that took advantage of Goodwin's gift for groove and swing while remaining open enough to allow the improvisations to wander however far afield the moment might call for.
Kirk Knuffke is a prolific composer and improviser who has worked with a host of incredible musicians including Roswell Rudd, William Parker, Uri Caine, Myra Melford, Allison Miller, Steve Swell, John Zorn, Dave Douglas, Billy Hart, Steven Bernstein, and Mary Halvorson. Internationally, he has played with ensembles at jazz festivals in Saalfeldan Austria, Willisau Switzerland, The North Sea Jazz festival in Holland, The Moers festival as well as festival dates in Canada, Mexico, Italy and France. He is currently a member of the Matt Wilson Quartet. Knuffke is also a member of the Mark Helias Quartet, the Andrew D'angelo Big Band, Josh Roseman's Extended Constellations, Kenny Wollesen's Wollesonic and Allison Miller's Boom tic Boom. Knuffke's leader debut, Big Wig, was released by Clean Feed in 2008, followed by the trio recordings Chew Your Food and Amnesia Brown and the quartet album Chorale. He has also recorded several duo CDs with pianist Jesse Stacken and one with percussionist Mike Pride, and co-led the collaborative trio Sifter with Mary Halvorson and Matt Wilson and a quartet with saxophonist Ted Brown.1. Safety Shoes
2. Bright Light
7. Arms & Hands
10. Thanks A Lot$16.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
UndercurrentOther than four piano solos from April 4, 1962, this set was pianist Bill Evans' first recordings after a hiatus caused by bassist Scott LaFaro's tragic death in a car accident. The first of two meetings on record in a duo format with guitarist Jim Hall, the collaborations are often exquisite. Both Evans and Hall had introspective and harmonically advanced styles along with roots in hard-swinging bebop. The six selections on the original LP have been expanded to ten for this reissue with the inclusion of two alternate takes and previously unheard versions of Stairway to the Stars and I'm Getting Sentimental Over You. There is more variety than expected on the fine set with some cookers, ballads, waltzes, and even some hints at classical music. Recommended.1. My Funny Valentine
2. I Hear A Rhapsody
3. Dream Gypsy
4. Stairway to the Stars*
6. Skating In Central Park
7. Darn That Dream
8. Stairway To The Stars
9. I'm Getting Sentimental Over You*
*Bonus Track$27.99180 Gram Audiophile Virgin Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now