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38 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the most absorbing and enjoyable Evans albums
Portrait in Jazz was the first of only four (official) albums made by what Evans fans know as "the first trio" - the one with Scott La Faro and Paul Motian - which introduced a new approach to the music of a jazz piano trio. Whereas the conventional trio tended to feature the pianist as a 'star soloist' with bass and percussion essentially as 'accompanists' with a fixed...
Published on 26 Feb 2003 by MikeG

versus
1.0 out of 5 stars CD quality is really terrible
Really terrible CD quality that ruins the beautiful playing by Bill Evans.
Published 2 months ago by Rune Elven


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38 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the most absorbing and enjoyable Evans albums, 26 Feb 2003
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This review is from: Portrait In Jazz (Audio CD)
Portrait in Jazz was the first of only four (official) albums made by what Evans fans know as "the first trio" - the one with Scott La Faro and Paul Motian - which introduced a new approach to the music of a jazz piano trio. Whereas the conventional trio tended to feature the pianist as a 'star soloist' with bass and percussion essentially as 'accompanists' with a fixed and limited role, Evans, La Faro and drummer Paul Motian aimed to develop more of a sense of equal and spontaneous interplay. Scott La Faro was the right man in the right place: his virtuoso technique and strong musical personality enabled him to play the more active, assertive (but compatible) role Evans wanted for the group. By the time this trio played its famous sessions at The Village Vanguard (Live at the Village Vanguard and Waltz for Debby) this 'collective improvisation' was well developed. Portrait in Jazz being the first album by the trio, there's a strong sense of discovery and enthusiasm which, I think, gives the music a greater freshness and vitality than the subsequent albums (even if in other ways they may be preferred by some listeners), and it's those qualities, along with the sensitive, alert musicianship of the trio which makes this surely one of the most absorbing and enjoyable of Evans's many albums.
Part of its appeal is also the excellent choice of material, but much of the interest lies in what Evans in particular does with it. Often this is mainly a matter of the unusual chord voicings and adjustments of rhythm and phrasing he gives to a familiar tune, which open up wider harmonic and rhythmic perspectives for improvising. You hear this from the opening bars of the first number, "Come Rain or Come Shine" and it is evident also in the slower ballads, a haunting version of "Spring is Here" and a probing reading of "When I fall in Love". Notice for example how, on the latter very familiar tune, Evans's slightly 'off-centre' harmonies create a different kind of emotional tone from the suave, sentimental one which singers usually give it.
Among the other high spots are the famous up-tempo version of "Autumn Leaves", with its infectious swing and lively interplay between piano and bass, similarly propulsive readings of "What is this Thing Called Love" and "Some Day My Prince Will Come" and a marvellous "Blue in Green" on which the rapport between Evans and his partners is especially close.
A classic piano jazz album.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exceptional trio, 24 April 2005
By 
Ian Thumwood "ian17577" (Winchester) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Portrait In Jazz (Audio CD)
As a seventeen year old, I remember being introduced to Bill Evans by a friend who knew that I was interesting in learning to play jazz piano. Although the recordings in question were of a slightly later vintage that this CD, his playing was an epithany for me and opened my ears to more modern players such as Chick Corea, John Taylor, Richie Beirach and Keith Jarrett, all of whom must have owed a depth of gratitude to Evans.
"Portrait in Jazz" became a "must have" CD for me as one of my music books had a transcription on "Peri's Scope" - the most zestful of all the tracks on the disc. Elsewhere, it is the interpretations of standards such as the definative "Autumn Leaves", "Come rain or shine" and "What is this thing called love" that dominate. There is no more emotional performance on this record than "Spring is here."
Featuring his best-ever line up of Scott LaFaro on bass (who died shortly afterwards in a car crash) and the excellent drums of Paul Motian, still a vibrant player on today's scene, this is one of Bill Evan's finest performances. Recorded in the last few days of 1959, Evan's style represents a culmination in the development of jazz piano in that decade where the bass and drums were equal partners to the principle instrument. Forty-five years later the music remains as relevant as ever.
An essential purchase for fans of jazz piano and hopefully, as in my case, a portal through which to investigate the rich legacy he passed on.
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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars this is THE best Evans album, 21 Mar 2009
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Mr. A. W. Powsey "red squirrell" (reading, uk) - See all my reviews
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Bill has made so many brilliant albums but this is the best. I have been listening to him since 1960 and have so many of his cds but nothing beats this. Scot la Faro was killed not long after this album was made. He really did change the way jazz bass was played and his playing here is unequalled. Paul Motian, the ever sensitive drummer, ever tasteful..and Bill at his best..Autumn leaves, Come rain or come shine etc never bettered..I can still hum some of Bills improvisation.. it is so memorable.

If you are a modern jazz or indeed any fine music lover you must have this
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mr Powsey is correct!, 7 Nov 2009
By 
M. P. Doggett - See all my reviews
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A perfect combination creativity and sheer brilliance that possibly will never be equalled in the next 1000 years
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An incredible album, 31 May 2013
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This review is from: Portrait In Jazz (Audio CD)
This album is really top quality. The trio melts together so well and the choice of songs is brilliant. A personal favourite of mine is "Someday My Prince Will Come". How they managed to take a simple song from Snow White and turn it into a beautiful jazz trio piece is beyond me.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bill Evans, 14 Dec 2012
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I have said it all above, but above all, for someone who had the making of a concert pianist, he has achieved such a wonderful technique on his piano. His music absolutely touches your heart and the true romance as far as I am concerned.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Among The Best, 8 Sep 2010
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Mr. J. O. Savage (Bournemouth, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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Since the time I saw him on the BBC Jazz 625 programme back in the first days of BBC2 I have enjoyed the piano playing of Bill Evans. Since that time I have collected a number of his albums but this particular album reminds of that programme and as such I count it AMONG THE BEST.
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4.0 out of 5 stars One Of His Best, 19 Feb 2014
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This review is from: Portrait In Jazz (Audio CD)
One of Bill Evans' best albums. Five stars for the music but the packaging is typical Hallmark flimsy, without much information and barely worth any stars at all.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Bill Evans - Jazz Pianist, 31 Dec 2013
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This review is from: Portrait In Jazz (Audio CD)
Over the years I have collected many CD's of Bill Evans jazz piano playing and will continue to do so.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Magical!, 27 Mar 2013
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I love this album. Also bought a copy for my 81 year old Dad after he heard it in the car. I was holding out for a copy in SACD format, but I doubt I will ever be able to part with the asking price, even for a second hand one.
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Portrait In Jazz
Portrait In Jazz by Bill Evans Trio
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