Monday, 8 September 2008

Bill Evans & Toots Thielmans - Affinity

95.3 MB
256+ VBR LAME mp3
Vinyl rip & scans from Warner Bros BSK 3293

As mentioned before, there's a need to cut some corners for a couple weeks so this is a perfect time to do so and live up to this blog's claim of trying to fill in the blanks in the blogosphere by posting Bill Evans' Affinity. A while back Simon at never enough rhodes posted Symbiosis and this was one of the non-blogged releases in the discography he provided at the tail-end of the post. Now it is blogged. I also dug up a few reviews for you to peruse so without further ado...

Pianist Bill Evans (who doubles on electric piano on this album for the final time in the recording studio) welcomes guest harmonica player Toots Thielemans and Larry Schneider (on tenor, soprano and alto flute) to an outing with bassist Marc Johnson (making his recording debut with Evans) and drummer Eliot Zigmund. The material contains some surprises (including Paul Simon's "I Do It for Your Love" and Michel Legrand's "The Other Side of Tonight") and only two jazz standards ("Body & Soul" and "Blue and Green") with the latter being the only Evans composition. Excellent if not essential music that Evans generally uplifts.

Bill Evans Webpages
Recorded in 1978 with the legendary jazz harmonica player and composer
Toots Thielemans ("Bluesette"), this album represents several "firsts" for Bill Evans. These are his first versions of Paul Simon's beautiful "I Do It For Your Love", and the standard "Days of Wine and Roses" (Not counting the "V.I.P Theme" muzak record) --two tunes that stayed firmly in the trio's repertoire till the very end. It is also the first Evans release to feature bassist extraordinaire Marc Johnson. This is an essential album -- and some of Evans' most inspired later playing. His use of the Fender Rhodes electric piano on some tracks blends beautifully with Toot's warm melodicism, egging Bill on to some stunning work as an accompanist and soloist -- and the two jazz masters are in rare form throughout. "Affinity" can also boast of one of the most fluid and creative renditions of "Body and Soul" in all of jazz. Tenor player Larry Schnedier is featured on some lesser tracks. Thielemans later regarded the sessions for "Affinity" as his favorite!

CD Universe
A low-key date from 1978, AFFINITY features the interesting pairing of Bill Evans with harmonica virtuoso Toots Thielemans. The results are surprisingly pretty, if unspectacular compared with the piano giant's more productive partnerships (with Jim Hall, Tony Bennett, etc.). Evans plays Fender Rhodes on several cuts, the best of which (tenor/alto/flute player Larry Schneider's "Tomato Kiss") has, in part due to the rubbery, Latin-influenced stylings of bassist Marc Johnson, a distinct spy-movie feel more characteristic of the early '60s than late '70s. Johnson, whose work with Evans is sometimes unfairly dismissed as lightweight in comparison to that of longtime Evans sidemen Scott LaFaro and Eddie Gomez, really shines throughout AFFINITY, proving himself an interesting and sensitive, if vastly different foil. Thielemans, as good as he is, fails to produce any real sparks on this record, often seeming to be in attendance purely to carry the melody on top while Evans develops gentle waves of harmonic richness underneath. A notable exception is the opening track, a sublime version of Paul Simon's "I Do It for Your Love"--an unusual choice that Thielemans, Johnson and Evans infuse with a quiet grace.

Bill Evans - Electric Piano, Piano
Toots Thielemans - Harmonica
Larry Schneider - Flute, Sax
Marc Johnson - Bass
Eliot Zigmund - Drums

1 I Do It For Your Love
2 Sno' Peas
3 This Is All I Ask
4 The Days Of Wine And Roses
5 Jesus' Last Ballad
6 Tomato Kiss
7 The Other Side Of Midnight
8 Blue And Green
9 Body & Soul

Long OOP and no CD reissue so far, Soundological offers it to you for your listening pleasure HERE or HERE.


Simon666 said...

Thankyou sir!
I switched the link on the "Symbiosis" post to this one ...

Anonymous said...

Wow! when your blog brings albums like this into the light our collective universe is brightened
thanks for the lesson

cheeba said...

You're both very welcome!

Simon, you're a speedy one...I didn't even get a chance to pop by NER and let you know yet!

ish said...

Thanks Cheeba! Great post.

cheeba said...

You're more than welcome, ish!

Slidewell said...

Toots and Bill Evans? How'd I miss this one back in the day? Well, it's a delicious surprise. Probably sounds too lightweight for some, but it never gets too sweet or maudlin. This one's a Soundological highlight!
Thanks much!

cheeba said...

You're welcome, Slidewell! Thanks for droppping a line!

I know exactly what you mean about this LP's vibe. At first I found it a bit lightweight but by the 3rd or 4th spin I could better appreciate the subtleties since there was none of what you mention to distract from the proceedings.

Truth be told, if I had run across this prior to last month I would have likely passed it over. Thankfully Simon helped me re-eval BE's late period stuff!

Jur said...

Thanks Cheeba,

Interesting combination, Bill Evans and Toots Thielemans.Great music to put on to relax just before you go to sleep.

I've always had a weak spot for Thoots. He is also one of the world's best whistlers, eg "Turks Fruit", see: .

flageolette said...

Thanks a lot!
I can't wait to hear this album..

alphabet said...

Much thanks, peace!!

cheeba said...

Since this post there has been a CD reissue...hi-fi fanatics can get flac here:

Anonymous said...

This is a magnificent record. I cannot recommend it enough to fans of both Bill Evans and Toots Thielemans. Magic is the word that comes to mind. May I strenuously urge all fans to mostly ignore the CD Universe review above. It doesn't do this record justice and should be deleted from the site for being so wrong! This is an album for the senses. Marvellous work by al musicians and Toots adds very sensitive and masterly touches on eac track. The electric piano use is ethereal on some tracks and pulsating on others, particularly the unforgettable Tomato Kiss. I bought this album in Paris in 1988 and it remains an absolute favourite. When once seeing Toots Thielemans playing at the Blue Note in New York, I went upstairs to see if he'd sign my copy of the record. He started to say that he didn't provide Autographs, until he saw which record I had brought. He said "but I'll make An exception for that one". Truly magic. Highly recommended.