Work in Progress

Dissertations on the Percussive School

Full of words and himself, but lacking any whiff of homework
photo: Sylvia Plachy
Full of words and himself, but lacking any whiff of homework

In 1958, Bill Evans was a work in progress. His name never makes the roster of percussive pianists because he is so closely associated with elaborate chord substitutions and a relatively ethereal sound. But back before Kind of Blue, his music was defined by his Riverside debut and driving work with George Russell, both highly percussive, though his lyricism was unmistakable. Verve has now reissued Eddie Costa's Guys and Dolls Like Vibes, an exceedingly rare 1958 Coral LP with Evans on piano, Wendell Marshall on bass, and Paul Motian on drums. Costa, who died at 31, was an exceptional pianist, known for his rigorous solos centered at and below middle C, but he was also a distinctive vibes player with an eerily muffled sound and unusual voicings. For the six shining Frank Loesser songs on this album, Costa wisely stays with the vibes and lets Evans romp freely through his imaginative arrangements. Together, they turn "Adelaide" into a near blues into which Evans interpolates a hunting call. This virtually unknown album, never previously reissued, is a long-lost treasure.

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