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Undercurrent Original recording reissued, Original recording remastered

4.8 out of 5 stars 56 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Original recording reissued, Original recording remastered, July 16, 2002
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Editorial Reviews

Duet albums were rare in 1962 and encounters of this quality are still rare. Bill Evans and Jim Hall, two modern jazz giants, were in peak creative form at the time, Evans leading his own trio and Hall working with Sonny Rollins's quartet at the time.

These two masters challenge and complement each other brilliantly on a series of standards and jazz originals. Newly remixed and remastered in 24 bit, this new edition of Undercurrent, which contains two more tunes (tracks 7 & 8) and two alternate takes (tracks 9 & 10) added to the original United Artists album, sound exceptional.

  • Sample this album Artist - Artist (Sample)
1
30
5:24
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2
30
4:40
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3
30
4:34
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4
30
5:23
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5
30
5:24
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6
30
5:08
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7
30
5:41
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8
30
4:16
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9
30
6:57
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10
30
5:24
Play in Library $1.29
 

Product Details

  • Audio CD (July 16, 2002)
  • Original Release Date: 1962
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Original recording reissued, Original recording remastered
  • Label: Blue Note
  • ASIN: B0000691U0
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #19,163 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
If you have the previous cd version of this album, you have to check this remastered version out. I have enjoyed the sonic improvements on a lot of recent remasters of older jazz recordings. In this case the remaster doesn't just sound "better", but actually sounds like a completely different recording.
The piano on the first cd issue is quite forward, with the left hand panned to the left, and the right hand panned to the right of the sound stage. The guitar is centered, sounding a little behind the two "halves" of the piano. On the new remaster, the piano sounds like one instrument in space, but considerably further back in the soundstage. The guitar is still centered, but a touch more forward and more clearly presented. The result of these sonic changes is a revelation. The logic and emotion of the communication between these two incredible musicians is revealed in a completely different and astonishing way.
On the first cd Evans appears to be sharing intimate ideas of importance at all times, made up of detailed notions that follow each other in "strings". Hall weaves into the strings for several sections of each tune, to add a sort of counterpoint to what Evans is saying. On the new remaster Evans now shares not strings of ideas, but coherent, moving themes. It is also naturally evident when he is supporting Hall, and when he is taking the lead voice in the discussion. When Hall plays, he is no longer playing clever counterpoint, but is making very flowing and astonishingly beautiful statements of his own.
The music is so drastically altered by the changes in mastering here that the two cd versions have virtually nothing in common. I look forward to other Bill Evans fans comments on this release. I'm going out on a limb, and suggesting this musical meeting was one of the true great ones in jazz recording. Five stars is not enough.
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Format: Audio CD
Listeners might be forgiven for expecting a lot from a pairing of Bill Evans and Jim Hall. Not to worry. The album more than repays the investment (unlike the disappointing meeting between Bill and Stan Getz). One of the highlights is the up-tempo treatment of "My Funny Valentine" which, given its harmonies, makes complete musical sense. Moreover, the "alternate take" of the tune provides, if anything, a fresh and welcome perspective on Bill, who eschews the implied left-hand rhythm of the first version in favor of a masterfully-constructed, contagiously-swinging walking bass line (no comparable moment in Evans' vast discography comes to mind).
Thank goodness Blue Note thought to reissue the session (thankfully, too, capturing the sound of the piano was not left to Van Gelder). As for the vastly superior audio mixing of this edition to the original, I refer you to the previous reviewer's testimony. I will say that the album cover is one of the most evocative I've ever seen--sort of a variation on Millais' "Ophelia" as seen from below.
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Format: Audio CD
This is, quite simply, one of the most beautiful, poignant, and emotionally stirring jazz albums ever recorded. These two men were obviously led by the same muse, especially during these sessions. The ability that each one possesses for probing deeply into emotional and psychic realms is very much in evidence here. Listening to this recording is like eavesdropping on a very deep and private conversation between two creative geniuses.
One may ask, "Why so many ballads?" The answer would simply be, "Because they can." If you're a jazz musician, this album will teach you how to play ballads. If you're not a musician, it will teach you to feel life a little deeper.
Join these two masters as they lead you on a journey into your own soul, uncovering the fragile and mysterious beauty that is life.
Jason Bucklin
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By A Customer on October 5, 1999
Format: Audio CD
This is almost a perfect example of the kind of Jazz that Hall and Evans were masters at. I remember reading about Hall in a Who's Who of Jazz music as a guitar player who was oxymoronically labeled as 'too subtle' at times. Evans was already acknowledged at the time as an innovator of the Jazz conversation with the legendary trio...This date is brilliant, but never blinding. Check 'My Funny Valentine' for what telepathy means, as also the first take of Romain, where the melodic line seems to switch very naturally between the instruments. Also, the harmonic turns that both Hall and Evans give each take are worth listening every time around.
This will remain among my top jazz records of all time.
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Format: Audio CD
While there is some precedent in early blues records for the piano/guitar format(Scrapper Blackwell and Leroy Carr come to mind), Bill Evans and Jim Hall are THE innovators for this instrumentation in jazz - their achievements on "Undercurrent" and "Intermodulation" established the standard by which subsequent piano/guitar sessions, including those of Joe Pass and Oscar Peterson ("a Salle Pleyel"); Joe Pass and Jimmy Rowles ("Checkmate"); Bill Frisell and Fred Hersch ("Songs We Know"); John Abercrombie and Andy LaVerne ("Timeless", "A Nice Idea", "Nosmo King"); and, in some tangential way, Cecil Taylor and Derek Bailey (On FMP's 1988 11 CD Cecil Taylor in Berlin release), are judged.

In their duet recordings, Evans and Hall first grappled successfully with some very tough issues that arise in piano/guitar duets - in this context, it can be very difficult to keep the instruments from stepping on each other's lines, but Evans and Hall each manage to carve out independent roles for themselves that each contribute to a very cohesive whole. To my ear, Evans is at the top of his game during these sessions, while Hall was only beginning to develop into the master that he is today (This is not to denigrate Hall's acheivement, but to point out that a great player then became substantially more accomplished over the next 40 years). From that perspective, these are Evans' sessions - his voicings, solos and accompaniments in these sessions outshine Hall's, and I can almost feel Evans accommodating some of Hall's less successful strategies. Still, the sum of their contributions is a beautiful, subtle mosaic of wonderful, meditative versions of standards.

It is instructive to compare the Evans/Hall sessions to some of the others mentioned above.
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