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Conversations With Myself Original recording remastered

25 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Original recording remastered, May 20, 1997
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

That Bill Evans ventured into overdubbed pianos for this session was in 1963 a historic occasion. Overdubs were seldom in the age of Rudy Van Gelder- and Orrin Keepnews-produced sessions, which were sacrosanct in their on-the-spot nature. But by 1963 it was clear that very, very few people could play the way Evans did. Once he had himself to play along with, it was abundantly clear why he was so singular a musical mind. The melodies here fit together like two sets of fingers making a cradle, and Evans dances the lines, flows them irregularly, and entangles them so as to paint himself into constant binds. Then he escapes the binds, as artfully as he had done on Sunday at the Village Vanguard and Waltz for Debby with the legendary trio of himself, bassist Scott LaFaro, and drummer Paul Motian. This is rightly one of jazz piano's most enchanted recordings. --Andrew Bartlett
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (May 20, 1997)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Original recording remastered
  • Label: Verve
  • ASIN: B0000047CV
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #67,204 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By B on September 6, 2004
Format: Audio CD
"Bill Evans had a lot of ideas and only ten fingers. What great complex things could he do with, say, thirty fingers?"

Well I'm glad you asked becuase your questioned is answered on this very Bill Evans album. He overdubs himself - not once, but twice - to create an astounding and confusing stereophonic experience with three Bills having nice conversations together.

"Well you know Bill played thick enough stuff with only one piano. Doesn't it get really muddy with three of them?"

Yeah maybe a little bit. But most of the time there's only two of them at once. One will be doing the chords and the low end and another will do the melody and some soloing and the third one will echo some ideas or run through really fast complex lies over everything else. Bill generally doesn't get in the way of his own playing, it's almost like he had a lot of things planned out already so that it fit together so well. There are even a lot of parts that sound like the random bursts of creativity that happen when everybody is playing at once, but here they are not playing at once.

"That can't be jazz it's too much like classical music."

Maybe you're right a little bit. It doesn't always swing that hard, and a lot of times it can resemble (in structure) something Bach would have done, but if you dig Bill Evans (and EVERYBODY digs Bill Evans) you would know that a very careful thought out approach is a big part of his playing, and this is just giving it a new setting.

Conversations with Myself is like a solo piano record on speed, or seeing triple, or something. It can get unsteady and confusing or whatever, but it's generally very lucid and who would want to be denied an oppurtunity to hear Bill Evans say so many things at once? That's why it's absolutely necessary, and the stereo separation is why you should use headphones.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 25, 2000
Format: Audio CD
How anyone can overdub, knowing when and what to play, is pretty much beyond me. How Evans can turn it into a conversation somewhat reminiscent of J.S. Bach (though not nearly as complex) and for the most part keep the textures clean can only be put down to genius. I have a few reservations with the CD - three pianos is probably one too many (producing, on occasion, thick, muddled harmonies), the sound quality isn't perfect, and it probably doesn't swing as much as it could. It's probably not the best introduction to Evans' music (try Sunday at the Village Vanguard), but if you want something a bit different, a little classically orientated and indicative of the man's genius, buy this CD. It's definitely still worth the 5 stars.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By B. J Robbins on October 18, 2004
Format: Audio CD
I have been listening to Bill Evans since high school and have many of his albums in 33 rpm (revolutions per minute, remember?). He never ceases to amaze, delight, and inspire. "Conversations with Myself" is a definite departure for Evans. Mostly a trio player (with the exception of "Alone"), here he is presented in triplicate. Whether more is less is for each listener to decide. Evans, in the liner notes, seems to have thought that the most interesting question was was this a solo or trio performance?

It seems to be a little of each. Sometimes Piano #1 stops playing chords and plays amazing walking bass lines (How About You? and Blue Monk). These two cuts are brilliant, full of melodic phrases, driving rhythms, and dissonant harmonies. 'Round Midnight, the opener, is haunting ... it will never leave you (and unlike the Romantic Evans, his playing on this cut emulates Monk's choppy, rhythmic style). The last cut, Just You, Just Me, another song in the Monk repertoire, might be a little dense, with all three pianos playing at once, but it is so melodic and frantic ... well, personally when I listen to it, I hope it will never end. And the Love Theme from Spartacus ... it is impossible to describe the beauty of Bill's playing on this. As the album notes say he doesn't just play the essence of a love theme, he plays the essence of love. No argument here.

The other cuts are interesting, but the above-mentioned are my personal favorites, and well worth the price of the CD.

As I said, this Evans album may not be for everybody. Evans himself had questions about the validity of the gimmick of overdubbing. But as someone once said, "There are two kinds of music ... good music and bad music." This is GREAT music.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By ADB on September 1, 2004
Format: Audio CD
It's fitting that Evans recorded this contrapuntal experiment on Glenn Gould's Steinway (Gould would later do something similar, overdubbing himself in a complex arrangement of Wagner's music). Evans wasn't the first, though, to try this: Lennie Tristano, a major influence on Evans, had overdubbed three pianos, each with a different time signature, in his recording "Turkish Mambo." But what makes this album an extraordinary listening experience rather than merely a gimmick is the range of expression, from the hard-swinging "How About You?" to the almost unbearably stark "N.Y.C.'s No Lark" (an elegy to the great pianist Sonny Clark, the title being an anagram based on his name) to the swirling, impressionistic interpretation of Alex North's "Spartacus Love Theme," which in my book ranks as one of the great achievements of Evans's career.

I see this album as one of Evans's more extreme attempts to recapture something like the telepathic rapport he enjoyed in his legendary trio with bassist Scott LaFaro and drummer Paul Motian. Evans spent much of his later career trying to fill the void left by LaFaro's untimely death in an auto accident. I think he saw LaFaro as a kind of "second self," and here he literally plays with two other selves. Yes, there's an artificial, made-in-the-studio quality that prevents this album from reaching the supreme heights of Sunday at the Village Vanguard or Waltz for Debby or Alone or the later Paris Concerts, but it's a bold, fascinating, and moving experiment nonetheless.
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