Music

Bill Evans Trio: How My Heart Sings!

The year 1962 would be a good year for Bill Evans artistically, and his return to the art started with this album.


Bill Evans Trio

How My Heart Sings!

Label: Concord Music Group
US Release Date: 2013-07-23
UK Release Date: 2013-07-23
Amazon
iTunes

If there's one thing worth noting on reviewing reissues of period jazz recordings (not previously heard) from the masters during the proverbial renaissance, it's how satisfying it is to know beforehand you're going to hear something that's hailed enough to warrant a reissue in the first place. This is assumptive, of course, but at the same time highly probable. Let the record show that since classic jazz reissue reviews started coming my way, I haven't been disappointed yet. There's also the added benefit of having the future history along with the past to provide context within the artist's timeline. The year 1962 would be a good year for Bill Evans artistically, and his return to the art started with this album (as well as another, we'll get to that shortly).

This time around, the Bill Evans Trio consisted of Evans, Paul Motian on drums, and Chuck Israels on bass. From these first sessions together, you get a record that sounds like Bill Evans, indeed, but as I listen this feeling of Evans in autopilot I can't steer away from. His flourishes are always astounding, but some throughout the record have an exercising feel to them, just going through the motions. Maybe it has to do with the standard-heavy track lineup ("Summertime", "I Should Care", and "In Your Own Sweet Way" all make an appearance here), and the fact that every cut here varies lightly within the same tempo range. Besides the 'standard' fare, the original compositions here are quite fun. "Walking Up" is a big highlight, and a fine moment from Bill Evans, the writer. If I weren't already familiar with most of these compositions, it would be hard to distinguish one track from the next. Granted, when working in a piano trio setting, the sparseness of the instrumentation leans itself to the background by default , but this is Bill Evans. The way he intertwined his chords alone is attention-getting and absolutely worthy of doctoral dissertation.

History has a lot to say about Bill Evans in '62, the year of How My Heart Sings! It was only a few months after the sudden passing of bassist Scott LaFaro, which led to a self-imposed exile and another year of heavy heroin use for him. It's no secret Evans had a real love for the stuff, but what's hard to put a finger on is was Evans piloting the heroin, or was it flying him? When you run across an album like How My Heart Sings! (which should be accompanied with Moonbeams, recorded at the same sessions), one can't help but to ponder such speculation. From everything we know about Bill Evans the man, it's a little of both. During this time of recovery from the tragedy of LaFaro's fatal car accident, you can't really blame him for disconnecting a little. Death changes people, for better or worse.

The last thing I want to do here is come across like this record isn't worthy of your attention. The torch songs not represented on this release isn't necessarily a detriment, just a matter of personal preference. It's got everything one would need in a piano trio record, unless you're a fan of Evans' ballads. You'll find no "Peace Piece" here, only mid-to-fast tempo numbers. All of the ballads recorded during these sessions were released on Moonbeams, which in turn is all slow and low. How My Heart Sings! has the comfort of familiarity with the spontaneity in solos that's all Evans. Think Vince Guaraldi without the need to lean on major chords and boastful octaving. Although, be prepared for little space between phrases. Still, this is very accessible to the enthusiast who's just looking for a non-invasive Sunday-morning record to accentuate drinking coffee and folding clothes. I look for those types of recordings all of the time, particularly when knocking out the weekend chore list. So, the lack in tempo dynamics could be a good thing, especially if have no desire to slow your roll while listening.

7

From drunken masters to rumbles in the Bronx, Jackie Chan's career is chock full of goofs and kicks. These ten films capture what makes Chan so magnetic.

Jackie Chan got his first film role way back in 1976, when a rival producer hired him for his obvious action prowess. Now, nearly 40 years later, he is more than a household name. He's a brand, a signature star with an equally recognizable onscreen persona. For many, he was their introduction into the world of Hong Kong cinema. For others, he's the goofy guy speaking broken English to Chris Tucker in the Rush Hour films.

From his grasp of physical comedy to his fearlessness in the face of certain death (until recently, Chan performed all of his own stunts) he's a one of a kind talent whose taken his abilities in directions both reasonable (charity work, political reform) and ridiculous (have your heard about his singing career?).

Now, Chan is back, bringing the latest installment in the long running Police Story franchise to Western shores (subtitled Lockdown, it's been around since 2013), and with it, a reminder of his multifaceted abilities. He's not just an actor. He's also a stunt coordinator and choreographer, a writer, a director, and most importantly, a ceaseless supporter of his country's cinema. With nearly four decades under his (black) belt, it's time to consider Chan's creative cannon. Below you will find our choices for the ten best pictures Jackie Chan's career, everything from the crazy to the classic. While he stuck to formula most of the time, no one made redundancy seem like original spectacle better than he.

Let's start with an oldie but goodie:

10. Operation Condor (Armour of God 2)

Two years after the final pre-Crystal Skull installment of the Indiana Jones films arrived in theaters, Chan was jumping on the adventurer/explorer bandwagon with this wonderful piece of movie mimicry. At the time, it was one of the most expensive Hong Kong movies ever made ($115 million, which translates to about $15 million American). Taking the character of Asian Hawk and turning him into more of a comedic figure would be the way in which Chan expanded his global reach, realizing that humor could help bring people to his otherwise over the top and carefully choreographed fight films -- and it's obviously worked.

9. Wheels on Meals

They are like the Three Stooges of Hong Kong action comedies, a combination so successful that it's amazing they never caught on around the world. Chan, along with director/writer/fight coordinator/actor Sammo Hung and Yuen Biao, all met at the Peking Opera, where they studied martial arts and acrobatics. They then began making movies, including this hilarious romp involving a food truck, a mysterious woman, and lots of physical shtick. While some prefer their other collaborations (Project A, Lucky Stars), this is their most unabashedly silly and fun. Hung remains one of the most underrated directors in all of the genre.

8. Mr. Nice Guy
Sammo Hung is behind the lens again, this time dealing with Chan's genial chef and a missing mob tape. Basically, an investigative journalist films something she shouldn't, the footage gets mixed up with some of our heroes, and a collection of clever cat and mouse chases ensue. Perhaps one of the best sequences in all of Chan's career occurs in a mall, when a bunch of bad guys come calling to interrupt a cooking demonstration. Most fans have never seen the original film. When New Line picked it up for distribution, it made several editorial and creative cuts. A Japanese release contains the only unaltered version of the effort.

7. Who Am I?

Amnesia. An easy comedic concept, right? Well, leave it to our lead and collaborator Benny Chan (no relation) to take this idea and go crazy with it. The title refers to Chan's post-trauma illness, as well as the name given to him by natives who come across his confused persona. Soon, everyone is referring to our hero by the oddball moniker while major league action set pieces fly by. While Chan is clearly capable of dealing with the demands of physical comedy and slapstick, this is one of the rare occasions when the laughs come from character, not just chaos.

6. Rumble in the Bronx

For many, this was the movie that broke Chan into the US mainstream. Sure, before then, he was a favorite of film fans with access to a video store stocking his foreign titles, but this is the effort that got the attention of Joe and Jane Six Pack. Naturally, as they did with almost all his films, New Line reconfigured it for a domestic audience, and found itself with a huge hit on its hands. Chan purists prefer the original cut, including the cast voices sans dubbing. It was thanks to Rumble that Chan would go on to have a lengthy run in Tinseltown, including those annoying Rush Hour films.

Next Page

Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

Keep reading... Show less

Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

Keep reading... Show less
3

A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

Keep reading... Show less
9

Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image