Customer Reviews: Moonbeams
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on November 30, 2000
Bill Evans is a musician you never tire of listening to. He has the ability to play a tune freshly, every time. This recording is, in my opinion, his finest. The first date after the untimely death of Scott LaFaro, this album is beautiful ,melodic and haunting. Every tune is played with typical Evans genius, but on this session he seems to be expressing his musical ideas with even more flavor and emotion. The first cut is the most expressive and emotive I have ever heard in the trio setting. I am sure it was dedicated to LaFaro, even though it supposedly is an anagram for the producer of the date, Orrin Keepnews. Evans expresses his passion, joy and grief for his young bassist in every note and the result is, to my mind, stunning. I love Chuck Israels' bass lines and the chords Evans plays quietly over the bass solo are beautiful and ephemeral. Every tune on this CD is wonderful, the playing of everyone is at such a high level of creativity that this music will live on forever. This is a can't miss choice if you like piano music.
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on May 31, 2000
i give this album 5 stars simply because every track is stunningly sublime. the mood of the album is much grayer and introspective than bill's other albums (although its hard to be more introspective than bill already is), as 'moonbeams' was one of the first albums evans recorded after the accidental death of Scott LaFaro, the transcendental virtuoso bassist who formed the most 'simultaneous improvisation' trio jazz has ever seen (along with paul motian on drums).
evans respected laFaro as a musician held him in the highest regard. after laFaro's death (10 days after the Village Vanguard show) evans took a short sabbatical from music. this album shows bill coming out of this depressing cave, at night, rediscovering the moon and stars...
the disc is worth the first track alone 're: person i knew,' a track probably dedicated to lafaro. evans himself recorded this composistion on other occasions (one of my favorites, on the 1970 'from left to right' album which features evans on the fender/rhodes electric piano). evans probes the keys, searching for a reply to some anguish.
the rest of the tracks are marvelous gems of nightmusic; this is also the only evans CD which features all ballads. if you are looking for an evans album that 'swings' dont buy this one (opt for 'everybody digs bill evans'). this music does not swing; it sways, broods, subtly swimming in the night;
incidentally, the title (and the track 'moonbeams and polka dots') comes from a bud powell (probably the biggest pianist to influence evans) track by the name of...well...'moonbeams and polka dots'
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on August 18, 2003
This is by far one of the most beautiful recordings made by the Bill Evans trio. This was I'm told Bill's first all ballads record. Riverside records released it on vinyl way back in 1962. None of the music sounds dated. considering it's 41 years old. This is the first recording Bill made with Chuck Israels taking over for the late Scott Lafaro as the bass player. This album has a very haunting and romantic feeling to it. The music is sad in tone and suggests feelings of longing and sobering reflection. One goal that Bill always strived for was to ballance intellect with passion to make intelligent and original sounding jazz. I dont even know if jazz is the right stamp to put on this recording. To me it sounds more like European classical music. Also thank god for Bill's college music theory teacher at Southeastern University Gretchen Magee. Because if it werent for her motivation {Evans often thought of his work as unsatisfactory and sometimes needed alot of motivation from from bandmates and peers} he might not have composed his gorgeous original composition "Very Early" {which is the last track on the CD its just breathtaking...}Being an amature pianist myself, "Very early" and "childrens play song" were the first two Evans' compositions I taught myself to play. The piece is a composition played in C major at a slow waltz tempo. He played the tune until the end of his life in 1980, but the original version on "moonbeams" might be the all around finest one. It is given a very slow and delicate treatment, and when he restates the theme at the end you can almost feel an imagrey of leaves or snow falling gently around you. I also really like his interpretation of "It might as well be spring". I think that Bill Evans was a beautiful person and pianist because he was never flashy and this album proves that. He didnt play anything he didnt have to. He always played just the right amount of notes and chords. With this record it all comes together coherently to make a truly stunning musical statement. Evans once told Tony Bennet to forget everything else and just concentrate on "truth and beauty." With the album "moonbeams" fans of Evans' music and important legacy will clearly be able to hear his own truth and beauty about life glowing from this gorgeous album. Highly recommended!
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on September 17, 2000
This is the "perfect" ballads album from Bill. As strong as silk thread, tender and moving all at the same time!
When you see him bends his back, lower his head down, eyes closed, fingers gently touching the can you not be moved with this recording? Man!
Read his books and you understand how this is a shy, loving man who just pours himself anytime he produces the music. Simply one of the most intelligent persons in the music business, before and after, he is here with the carefully selected tunes to accomodate his sensitive side, thumbs up to Orrin Keepnews who compiled this only all-ballads album from Evans!
Check out If You Could See Me Now....or I Fall In Love Too'll understand how this man can simply describe the color of the rainbow and the soft radiant evenings with fewest notes possible...carefully arranged, simply astonishing! How did he do it?
The mover, the shaker, the genius that inspires the millions, the center of the soft glowing light, here it is: Bill Evans!
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Five Stars are not enough: this CD is worthy of SIX Stars!! When uber-bassist Scottie La Faro was killed in a car accident, it took a devastated Bill Evans a full year to both recover and to acclimate to his new bassist Chuck Israels to the point of being ready to record. Israels brought to the trio another dimension of jazz bass wizardry using 'commentary' on Evans' work, instead of the previous 'conversations' between Bill's piano and La Faro's mighty bass. Produced by the great Orrin "OKeep" Keepnews, this CD is essential Bill Evans and one of the greatest jazz ballad performances-ever. Along with the legendary recording, "Sunday At The Village Vanguard" (with La Faro), this recording finally slammed the door on all assertions that Bill Evans was a better sideman than a leader.

As ballads should be, these tunes are generally taken at a slow pace but never maudlin. They are in fact very beautiful and spectacular, as Bill shows a different side to what are mostly very familiar ballads loved by jazzmen. Evans usually states the theme at a slow pace and accelerates into a faster pace after one pass, springing off of Israels' bedrock phrases.

The Piece D' Resistance, the modish "Re: Person I Knew" (an oblique reference to Keepnews) is a shot across the bow of 1960's pianism with Evans reeling off mighty, wondrous statements that are breathtaking, crystal clear, and with a relaxed intensity. Israels' first recorded bass solo with the trio is both deeply emotional and technically adept showing he is a worthy successor to La Faro. "Very Early" is a fabulous convoluted jazz waltz that shows off another view of Bill's compositional and soloing skills. Israels' bass commentary and his solo are a joy to hear. Tadd Dameron's super ballad "If You Could See Me Now" is pure block-chorded beauty (especially on 'the bridge'), as is "Polka Dots and Moonbeams", both shifting gears after one pass through with wondrous, dazzling single-noted lines that never stray from lyricism. "I Fall in Love Too Easily", "Stairways To The Stars" (note the fabulous Paul Motian brushwork and Evans' blazing coda), and "It Might As Well Be Spring" are total lyrical examples of what a jazz trio should be, with all members contributing SIMULTANEOUSLY and INVENTIVELY to the flow of the music from theme to solo to recapitulation. Paul Motian does some mighty, but subtle drumming throughout providing excellent support within the trio framework. An Essential Jazz Recording. My HIGHEST Recommendation! Five LYRICAL Stars!!

(Note: Bill Evans had a crucial choice to make: whether to play classical piano or jazz piano. We are so lucky that he chose jazz, probably to the detriment of his health, and brought alot of his classical techniques along for the ride. It was never on better display than on this CD.)
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on October 31, 2005
This is my favorite album by the Bill Evans trio. The album "How My Heart Sings" was recorded during the same session as this album and all the ballads from the session were put on "Moonbeams". This is one of the best jazz records I can think of. "Polka Dots and Moonbeams" is an absolutely beautiful song, but really the whole disc is breathtaking. Evans was depressed over the death of his bassist Scott Lafaro shortly after the recording of their performances at the Village Vanguard in New York, and the melancholy feel of the music matched his mood I'm sure. Whatever the circumstances were, this is one of my favorite jazz recordings and I have given it as a gift to many friends and relatives because I really think everyone should hear it.
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VINE VOICEon September 15, 2007
I own many Bill Evans CD's, including every one he did before this. Bill set out to be lyrical on this all-ballad record. The best way to understand the result to describe what it is not. It is nothing like the rowdy cuts on New Jazz Conceptions and Everybody Digs Bill Evans - no up tempo numbers. Paul Motian really eases up here. No dancing on a tight rope like Portrait. So then, how does it compare to the more subdued Village Vanguard recordings and Explorations? Sadly, to me, it does not hold up there either, and it's not just the loss of Scott LaFaro (later recordings prove that). Those CD's have a sophistication and subtle drama that draw the listener in; this recording seems ordinary by comparison. Perhaps that was inevitable - Evans had already tamed the frontiers of innovative voicings, modal music, rhythmic displacement and three-way simultaneous improvisation and was said to hate recording because he did not have much new to say. This was his first all-out attempt to pull the heartstrings. It's still Bill Evans, and he's still great, but the gunslinger checked his best guns at the door here. The result comes across as mainstream, with nothing daring or edgy going one. Of course, mainstream pays the bills - this was one of his most popular CD's. However, I reach for it to deal with road rage, not when I want to hear Bill Evans at his finest.
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on March 12, 2015
Probably my favorite Bill Evans Album. This Vinyl release is not bad. Everyone constantly moans how the old Vinyl from the 60's and 70's was so much better. Perhaps, but this pressing is not to shabby. It's not 180g or Audiophile plus, but it's a very decent release.
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VINE VOICEon February 14, 2007
One of the greatest pleasures of music is listening to it with someone special who shares your musical tastes and at the same time appreciating the beauty and charms music has to offer, like for instance, this lovely album "Moon Beams" from Bill Evans Trio. It consists of some of Bill Evans greatest recordings with Chuck Israels on bass and Paul Motian on drums.

"Less is more" applies to this album of eight remarkable tunes, two of which are his very own compositions, "Re: Person I Knew" and "Very Early." My favorites include "Polka Dots And Moonbeams," "It Might As Well Be Spring," and "Stairway To The Stars." These are masterpieces of style, elegance and beauty.

Listening to this lovely album creates an atmosphere of coziness and you'll surely fall in love with Bill Evans' tastefully exquisite piano playing style.

With my heartfelt recommendation for your listening pleasure always and ever!
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on April 17, 2014
This album, together with a companion recording, "How My Heart Sings," was derived from studio sessions with Chuck Israels on bass and Paul Motian on drums, that took place in May and June of 1962. Evans had taken a long hiatus from music prior to this date, shaken by the loss of the great bassist Scott LaFaro. But this is among his finest work, and ranks up there with the Village Vanguard Sessions. It is deeply evocative, timeless music. The recording is given over entirely to sensitive ballads, including "Re: Person I Knew," "Polka Dots and Moonbeams," "I Fall in Love Too Easily," "Stairway to the Stars" and Evans' own "Very Early," among others. Listening to this will take you on a transcendent emotional journey. This is one of the truly timeless recordings ever made in the jazz idiom. It's companion recording, "How My Heart Sings," contains the more upbeat, uptempo tunes recording on the date. This one is pure ballads. An artistic masterpiece.
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