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.