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Reviews of Pat Hall – Time Remembered: The Music Of Bill Evans (UR9960)

Pat Hall – Time Remembered: The Music of Bill Evans 

By: Grady Harp,

“William John Evans, known as Bill Evans (August 16, 1929 – September 15, 1980), was an American jazz pianist and composer who mostly worked in a trio setting. He is widely considered to be one of the greatest jazz pianists of all time, and is considered by some to have been the most influential post-World War II jazz pianist. Evans’s use of impressionist harmony, inventive interpretation of traditional jazz repertoire, block chords, and trademark rhythmically independent, “singing” melodic lines continue to influence jazz pianists today. Unlike many other jazz musicians of his time, Evans never embraced new movements like jazz fusion or free jazz.Along with an extraordinary band – Greg “Organ Monk” Lewis on Hammond organ, Marvin Sewell on guitar and drummer Mike Campenni – Pat Hall takes a parallax view into the oeuvre of Bill Evans.

According to the liner notes by Chris Kelsey, “Pat Hall has done it. He’s substituted overt passion for Bill Evans’ quiet reserve, impulsive chance taking for the pianist’s crystalline perfection. In place of the classic piano trio instrumentation so closely associated with Evans, he’s used something nearly it’s polar opposite. Some jazz musicians inspire such slavish devotion that their oeuvre becomes inviolable, something not to be interpreted but rather worshipped, something so precious that any stylistic deviation is akin to heresy. Bill Evans is that type of musician: a supremely gifted artist, certainly, but someone whose creative contribution is occasionally threatened to be subsumed by the slavering reverence bestowed on him as a jazz icon. In a sense then, Pat Hall’s unconventional essaying of compositions by Evans can be seen as an act of almost quixotic bravery. Bill Evans’ compositions re-imagined for a band led by a trombonist – and with the keyboard chair occupied by a Hammond organist, no less! Were the fictional barrister Jackie Chiles an Evans-o-phile, he might call such an endeavor “seditious, pernicious, avaricious … inauspicious!” Pat is like the “Everybody” in the album title. He digs Bill Evans. Digs, but doesn’t worship, in the same way that it’s possible to love one’s parent but not want to live life the same way or make the exact same choices…

You’re bound to remember time remembered.”

By: Brent Black,

5 Stars: Pat Hall embraces the spirit of Bill Evans with a unique vision and with great success! Bill Evans compositions are covered on a fairly regular basis. An entire release devoted to perhaps the greatest harmonic genius in improvisational music is not uncommon, a release that pushes the music forward is uncommon. Pat Hall has assembled a first rate trombone / organ trio to examine four Evans classics, a Rogers and Hart standard and two compositions from bassist Scott LaFaro and composer Earl Zindars who are both closely tied to the Evans legacy. The result is a more contemporary excursion down that rare harmonic road less traveled where Bill Evans became a legend.

The quiet reverence of Evans now is meticulously etched with soul, swing and a lyrical edge that takes these treasured compositions to the next level of possibilities rather than the same predictable formatted covers so often released. While Pat Hall could stand on stage with any ensemble, his ability to blend and gently guide this eclectic 4tet is worthy of special note. Greg “Organ Monk” Lewis is a critically acclaimed performer cut from the Larry Young mold while guitarist Marvin Sewell and drummer Mike Campenni provide the finesse necessary to help tie these compositions together. The arrangements are solid yet forward thinking while the execution is exemplary.

Admittedly, Bill Evans purists may at first balk at such an unorthodox attempt to pay tribute while the more harmonically in tune will be entranced at the possibilities that are always inside a beautiful melody.”

By: John Ephland,

“The unconventional inside a conventional skin. That’s what we have here with trombonist Pat Hall’s offering Time Remembered: The Music of Bill Evans. Playing it from the bottom up, so to speak, Hall’s approach to the Evans corpus (along with two standards associated with the late pianist, Rodgers and Hart’s “Spring Is Here” and Earl Zindars’ “Elsa”) is also unconventional due the presence of organist Greg “Organ Monk” Lewis laying down the chordal framework. Along with guitarist Martin Sewell and drummer Mike Campenni, these seven covers are played relatively straightforward, with few twists and turns to accompany the unique instrumentation upfront.

One of the strengths of Time Remembered, as with any successful interpretative project, is hearing Evans’ music convincingly played through another musical prism. In a sense, it takes balls to essentially change the palette of an artist who is known more (at least for the majority of his career) for introspective, dreamy and impressionistic jazz. Instead, what we get with Time Remembered is music laced with elements of grease, plangent tones, not to mention groove. The band mostly swings through up-tempo versions of the songs here, with the exception of the title track and “Spring Is Here.”

Perhaps a model example of what I mean can be heard with the band’s up-tempo drive on “Elsa,” where the waltz becomes a kind of merry go round of solos inside heads and tails of the melody that seem almost abrupt; as if everyone had their ears leaning toward the exploration of this lovely theme. Likewise “Know What I Mean?” which seems more like a vehicle for blowing than a tune selected for its melodic content. That’s just fine here, because some of the best playing surfaces with Hall leading the charge, his rhythmic feel for this up-tempo swing along with fluid note choices that combine a sense of urgency with a facility to hit those notes at every point on the register have us forgetting this is a Bill Evans number. Add some of Lewis and Sewell’s best playing here as they seemingly glide across the changes (along with seamless bass pedal work from Lewis) and you get the impression this is a tight rhythm section, a rhythm section that finds Campenni’s drumming elastic, supportive, unobtrusive and above all swinging.

On the whole, Time Remembered isn’t an introspective visit to the music of Bill Evans. Even “Time Remembered,” a classic ballad from Evans early years as a solo artist, is ultimately rendered as a medium-tempo swinger as the band works it way through and past the song’s evocative theme. That said, their version again showcases Hall’s facility on the trombone, with a clear tone that carries a typically flat resonance that still manages to soar.

Given the strengths and staying power of Bill Evans’ compositions, most of which carry unusual chord substitutions, novel intervals and a definitive rhythmic approach, it’s no wonder these versions would tend to be played straight down the middle, conventional more by normative jazz standards. Contrast this recording with, for example, guitarist John McLaughlin’s own Time Remembered (Verve), where the instruments are all acoustic, the guitarist accompanied by a string quartet of four guitars and one bassist in what is ultimately a very classical, almost otherworldly and perhaps too respectful tribute. By way of contrast, this more recent release—heard through the musical lens of this quartet’s sound—is no doubt shaped and corralled by Evans’ strong musical personality but, in the end, plays like a band in a groove that just happens to be filled up with some pretty memorable tunes.”

By: Chris Spector,

“And here’s one of those things that make you go m-m-m-m-m-m-m-m; a tribute to Bill Evans led by a trombone player with Greg Lewis filling the piano chair and bringing his smoking organ to do the job.  With “Waltz for Debby” and “Time Remembered” filling over 20 minutes by themselves, this is clearly a re-imagining of Evans oeuvre.  Often as low key as Evans himself, this is a wild album for all his fans that would like to see the cat’s influence not be forgotten and get more of the due that’s due him.  Tasty?  You bet!  Easily as one of a kind as he was as well.  Check it out.”

By: Mark S. Tucker,

“Cool! A trombone dominated jazz session, and a set of grooves celebrating Bill Evans no less. Man, the gods of jazz must’ve been reading all my FAME kvetching ‘n squalling about the second-citizen status of the instrument ’cause the last coupla years have seen a marked increase in presence and command for that liquid instrument blending sax and trumpet. ‘Still’, you might be tempted say, o reader, ‘Bill Evans memorialized on ‘bone, organ, guitar, and drums…really?’ Oh hell yes!, I answer, and he must be laughing his ass off up in the clouds, rejoicing, delighted anyone would dare the act and succeed so well. ‘Finally,’ he is himself celebrating, ‘someone saw that side and added bit of funk besides!’ Yep, even the angels have their street angles.

The formerly audiophile-only Unseen Rain label, an imprint which specializes in the ne plus ultra of sonic technology, so strongly dug the unexpected nature of this ensemble that it made their sessions the first CD in the product line. The point, y’see, is that it’s JAZZ! You’re not supposed to be a letter perfect cloning stamp-press covers band when you’re serious about your work, you’re supposed to take things a step further, maybe five steps, ten if you can, and this one’s a ten stepper just in terms of audacity, let alone chops. And brashness rules the day as the Hammond intro to Waltz for Debby more than amply demonstrates, a cross between rainy night dive and hip church recital completely re-creating the song. Then Hall jumps in and takes things up a notch but never into the classicalist milieu Bill so favored, instead yanking out what the foursome clearly sees in Evans’ music.

The result is Bill after he’s knocked back a few, undone his tie, and decided to throw off the formalisms for feel-good loosey-goosey jazz. Greg ‘Organ Monk’ Lewis is the Hammond cat, Marvin Sewell wields an old school (Ellis, Kessel, Montgomery) swingin’ guitar, and Mike Campenni sits behind the drum kit with a light but expressive hand, punctuating and embellishing more than rhythm sectioning. Though most of the disc is Evans’ music, I think my favorite track is Rodgers & Hart’s Spring is Here, a comp Evans loved. Hall’s version is so damn unorthodox, something you’d expect to hear in a really urban stage play, that it stuns. It’s almost unholy how much the song is twisted, but, man, what a glorious interpretation. The entire gig is that way, so if you’re looking for a one-liner encapsulization, forget it!, can’t be done, just jump into the deep end of the pool with the rest of us, but don’t forget to grab that double shot of scotch ‘n soda before you do. You’ll need it.”

By: Ric Bang,

“Every jazz fan remembers pianist Bill Evans; not nearly as many know about Pat Hall. Well, Hall is something of an anachronism: He didn’t grow up in a musical family, although his father — who worked for GM in Flint, Michigan — had an 8-track player in his car, on which he played a lot of Pink Floyd, which young Pat grew to love. He also was lucky enough to attend a relatively advanced public school system, which made it possible for kids to learn to play musical instruments; his choice was a trombone.

At age 16, Hall attended a summer session at Boston’s famed Berklee School of Music, where he was exposed to records by J.J. Johnson. That set his future course.

Ornette Coleman was another huge influence, and Hall’s initial recording session was a tribute to that icon. This new album, as the title makes clear, is a remembrance of Evans and his music. The quartet is somewhat unusual, in that the usual piano and acoustic bass have been replaced by Greg Lewis’ Hammond B3 organ and Marvin Sewell’s guitar. They’re joined by drummer Mike Campenni, with Hall on trombone.

All seven tracks are tunes that Evans and his groups made famous, and four were composed by Evans: “Waltz for Debby,” “Know What I Mean?,” “Time Remembered” and “Peri’s Scope.” Evans’ famous bassist, Scott LaFaro, contributed “Gloria’s Step,” and the musical menus is completed with Rogers and Hart’s “Spring Is Here,” and Earl Zindars’ “Elsa.”

The instrumentation may be different, but the quality of the music — and the chops displayed by the musicians themselves — make this an excellent release. We all miss Evans and his groups, and it’s nice that releases like this are keeping his work alive.”

By: Ron Weinstock,

“Trombonist Pat Hall’s “Time Remembered: The Music of Bill Evans” (Unseenrain) is an unusual exploration of music associated with the late Bill Evans.

Backed by Greg “Organ Monk” Lewis on the Hammond B-3, Marvin Sewell on guitar and Mike Campenni on drums, the organ trio and trombone setting is somewhat removed from the piano trios that Evans led during his highly influential career. This provides a very different cast to the performances of the music of pianist Evans.

“Time Remembered” is a lively recording with its light swing, the leader’s gravelly trombone playing, Sewell’s fleet fretwork, and Lewis’ B-3 work whether providing some color under the other soloists or getting greasy during his solos. All the while Campenni adds his solid groove along with his rhythmic accents. One hears this on the opening rendition of Scott LaFaro’s ”Gloria’s Step.”

Lewis sets the tone on what is perhaps Evans’ most famous composition, “Waltz For Debbie,” with a rhapsodic opening with just percussive accents before he kicks up the tempo for Hall to state the theme and take a spirited solo. Employing a mute, Hall provides a languid tone to the rendition of the Rogers & Hart standard “Spring Is Here” that also includes nice playing from Sewell and Lewis. Hall and band are more animated on a sparkling rendition of Earl Zindars’ “Elsa,” with a fine solo from guitarist Sewell. The title track is opens with Sewell in a low-key, pensive fashion before Hall and Lewis take more extroverted spots.

The album closes with the light swing of “Peri’s Scope,” continuing to exhibit the engaging quality of the performances by Hall and his band. This is an entertaining exploration of Bill Evans music that captivates with its mix of swing and lyricism from Pat Hall and associates.”

By: Oscar Groomes,

“Bill Evans was a legendary jazz pianist and composer. Time Remembered is a collection of seven tunes written or popularized by Evans. Pat Hall (tb) assembles a piano less quartet to perform the session giving the songs a different twist vs. the originals. Greg Lewis (B3), Marvin Sewell (g) and Mike Campenni (d) join Pat for a swinging set. We liked ‘”Elsa’ and “Peri’s Scope” best.”

By: Rotcod Zzaj,

“Pat’s trombone work is just “kickin’” on this great tribute to the music of Bill Evans. …and very nicely complemented by organ from Greg “Organ Monk” Lewis, guitar from Marvin Sewell and drums by Mike Campenni. Tunes like the splendid opener, “Gloria’s Step“, will bring memories of jazz the way it was meant to be! Solid jazz that will please your ears & have you finger/toe tappin’ right along with these excellent players. I’ve reviewed various CD’s with Greg’s organ on them, & this is definitely among the best. I totally dug the vibe on the laid-back & bluesy “Spring Is Here“… a very nice groove to be in. The 8:42 “Peri’s Scope” got my vote for favorite track of the seven presented for your jazz listening pleasure. I give Pat & crew a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.97. Get more information at Pat’s website.”

By: George Fendel,

“Considering the fact that Bill Evans passed away nearly 35 years ago, this second of two tribute recordings, released in the same month, are proof of his timeless legacy. While this album doesn’t have the emotional pull of the disc reviewed above, it features Evans tunes, coincidentally I’m sure, that are not included in the Martin Wind release. Surely you remember titles such as “Gloria’s Step,” “Elsa,” “Time Remembered” and “Peri’s Scope,” to name a few of the high points. Hall’s trombone possesses the Bob Brookmeyer-like touch of wit and charm, and his improvisational choruses never veer too far off the center of the highway. Hall’s quartet includes Greg Lewis, organ, Marvin Sewell, guitar, and Mike Campenni, drums. Lewis does no harm on organ. But for an album honoring Bill Evans, I would have preferred a pianist over the Hammond. Having said that, I should add that any Evans tribute feeds my “good side,” and while this is something of a detour, it works for me.”

By: Doug Simpson,

“An unusual quartet takes an equally unusual run through Bill Evans territory. When jazz listeners think of pianist Bill Evans, the farthest thing from their thoughts is probably a quartet featuring trombone, Hammond B-3 organ, drums and guitar. Which is why trombonist Pat Hall’s tribute to the late, great Evans—Time Remembered: The Music of Bill Evans—will doubtless roil the hackles of jazz purists. This hour-long excursion is not a reverent outing, but an open-minded re-imagining of music written by or associated with Evans. Members of the so-called ‘jazz police’ should not bother with this album. If, however, you want to hear a record which embraces the spirit of Evans through artistry and vision, rather than well-intentioned but derisory mimicry, then Hall’s third album for the Unseen Rain label may be appealing. Time Remembered was initially offered only as a high-definition digital download, but this review refers to the newer, CD version issued in early August of this year.

This isn’t the first time Hall has turned to homage. Two years ago he released Happy House, an accolade to Ornette Coleman’s early, chord-less music. But Time Remembered is more assured and fearless: abandoning piano to perform Evans’ music takes self-confidence. But Hall, guitarist Marvin Sewell (who has backed Cassandra Wilson, Jason Moran and others), Greg “Organ Monk” Lewis (on Hammond B-3) and drummer Mike Campenni create a stimulating set which is exploratory and progressive.

The inspired re-structuring is notable on all seven tunes, and in particular on the lengthiest track, a 12-minute rethink of Evans’ most famous composition, “Waltz for Debby.” Lewis commences with a long rubato solo before the rest of the foursome join in the 4/4 arrangement. Hall has a lively improvisation as he takes center stage. Here, and elsewhere, Hall showcases his ‘bone brilliance, evoking at times J.J. Johnson’s bop styling, and other times Grachan Moncur or Roswell Rudd’s edgier tone. Sewell is understated and in the background, although he displays an angularity when he does a solo spotlight, his bright notes skipping across his fretboard. Campenni utilizes an array of resourceful percussive nuances which deliver a contextual support. Three other Evans compositions are correspondingly prominent. “Know What I Mean?” begins with a moody, atmospheric prologue, but then quickly enters bop-ish terrain as an up-tempo groove is maintained. Hall explodes with an intrepid improv, the notes swelling. Sewell follows suit, although his sound isn’t as heady, and Lewis takes the third solo with a propulsive surge which brings to mind one of his heroes, Larry Young. Campenni has the final solo, where he uses rolling sticks across his tom and cymbals. Evans was an abundantly lyrical player, and his sense of shimmer and low simmer is presented during the transcendent title track, although even here Hall and his band take chances. Lewis slices in some otherworldly chords more akin to Sun Ra than Evans; and Sewell’s guitar runs are also meatier than might be expected. Hard bop is the name of the game on the closer, a swinging version of “Peri’s Scope,” where syncopation is paramount and the arrangement is the most traditional of the seven cuts.

Evans covered many pieces penned by others, so Hall had lots to choose from. The opening number, “Gloria’s Step,” is by bassist Scott La Faro, best known for his seminal work with the Bill Evans Trio. Hall’s quartet pushes this into an upbeat and fast-paced interpretation. Hall has the longest solo section: his fervor is fuelled by Lewis’ organ, which ably replicates Hall’s fire. Sewell also adds in a first-rate guitar solo. On the opposite side, Rodgers and Hart’s beautiful ballad, “Spring Is Here,” gets under way with a sunlit stride highlighted by Hall’s limpid trombone. Eventually, the arrangement notches higher to a mid-tempo posture, with fluid guitar and sparkly organ leading the way. Composer Earl Zindars’ “Elsa,” which Evans helped turn into a jazz standard, has a swinging timbre similar to “Peri’s Scope.” Lewis and Sewell offer longer organ and guitar tones and both solo with an ease of facility only years of work can do. The proceedings were nicely mixed, recorded and engineered at Tom Tedesco’s Paramus, New Jersey studio. {UR Webmaster’s note – recording was mixed and mastered by Jim DeSalvo at Beanstudio, though recorded at Tedesco} Anyone who wants to see and hear the band can watch a video with excerpts from the sessions. Tedesco gives the material a lissome quality: the recording has a live feel but also a subtle characteristic, not as noisy as likeminded projects, which suits Hall’s intentions and the melodic elements. One caveat: Chris Kelsey’s erudite and edifying liner notes are not included in the CD package (only an incorrect web address is listed). Instead, they are only available online, but are worth reading for those who may want to purchase this release.”

By: Jazz Quad (Russia),

“Well, only one more tribute album,” – says Blase Dzhazfen, who barely glanced at the cover of this CD. But putting the disc on to listen to it once, from the first bars, makes sure that this tribute is at least unusual, and in essence – is unique in many respects. Judge for yourself. The outstanding jazz pianist Bill Evans is loved by many. Pianists and piano jazz trios have played his music, or at least try to recreate it in their own way to convey the amazing harmonic and rhythmic constructions of Evans. He dedicated his work to trumpeter Miles Davis, a former partner of Bill and guitarist John McLaughlin. But I have never heard until now (though maybe it’s a matter of my lack of knowledge) the music for our Bill Evans led by the trombone.

Pat Hall did it. Yes, and it’s radical! For this recording he assembled a quartet in which there is no pianist. Let’s agree – that is bold in itself. Hall became partners with the great Hammond organ master Greg  “Organ Monk” Lewis, guitarist Marvin Sewell and drummer Mark Campenni. Hall also built his program unconventionally. Logically, when an album is dedicated to a musician, that musician’s works are included. And with Bill Evans, of course, it is the case here. Four of the tunes are Bill’s, including Time Remembered and his most popular song Waltz For Debby. But along with them in this Hall tribute is Gloria’s Step by Scott La Faro, a member of one of the best Evan’s trios and the standard by Rogers and Hart,  Spring Is Here and the composition by Earl Zindars,  Elsa. It is quite obvious that Hall sought primarily to convey the spirit of Evan’s music and to present this band’s versions of his works. And with a choice of repertoire like this, the approach can really be anything, if only turning Evan’s creative ideas into executable material.

Of course, to judge how successfully Pat Hall implemented this plans, just listen. For my taste, a musician who can record this album itself is an asset. Indeed it happened. It’s enough to listen to the lyrical and spiritual sound of his trombone in Spring Is Here, and to evaluate Hall’s solo in Waltz For Debby to be convinced. The congenial quartet leader works well with Greg “Organ Monk” Lewis. He also wondered if the Hammond can sound very different than we are used to and also makesthe organ sound just great, for example, on Peri’s Scope. I must mention Sewell the guitarist, whose playing on Elsa and Time Remembered are beyond praise.

This is such an unusual album and is certainly worth a listen. And still worth reading the brilliant, full of irony in relation to Evan’s lovers stereotypes liner notes from Chris Kelsey. Hall and his colleagues broke a lot of them in this project and Kelsey writes very well about it.”