Jim Norton Collective

Time Remembered: Compositions of Bill Evans

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MUSIC REVIEW BY Jon Ross, Downbeat

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For a musical study of Bill Evans, baritone saxophonist Jim Norton didn't simply go for a greatest hits collection. Instead, he chose tunes that form a complete picture of the pianist, culling his collection from less-heard sources and transferring these small-ensemble recordings into big band charts.

The noted San Francisco-based sideman assembled some of the best Bay Area musicians for the tribute, players who excel at ensemble work. Each musician is a strong player in his or her own right, and they turn in capable, energetic solos, but the instrumentalists excel as a unit. Norton's arrangements serve his source material well; he magnifies the intimacy and the exactness of Evans' trio tunes without losing musical focus.

To drive home the concept of Time Remembered, Norton kicks off the disc with "Fudgesickle Built For Four," a tune recorded during Evans' Riverside years that appeared on Loose Blues, released after his death. Norton takes the maddeningly tricky tune, consisting of thorny interlocking melodic lines presented in a quasi fugue, and deconstructs it. With a loping bass solo at the beginning and the slow addition of harmonic voices, each part sings out. Norton avoids what could easily turn into musical mush.

"Fudgesickle" returns in a reprise role toward the end of the CD, bookending the album with Evans' compositional intensity. Norton closes the disc, however, with "34 Skidoo" from 1962's How My Heart Sings!, capturing the uptempo bounciness of the original, even with a vastly expanded cast of characters.






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