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Jim Hall and Bill Evans: 'Undercurrent'


MURRAY HORWITZ, American Film Institute: A.B., of course, if you're a living, breathing jazz fan, you love hard blowing sessions, but a Basic Jazz Record Library also needs some pensive and sensitive sets as well. And we've got some with Bill Evans and Jim Hall on Undercurrent.

A.B. SPELLMAN, National Endowment for the Arts: Indeed we do, Murray. Most of this CD is very introspective music, and it's by two of the most exacting stylists in modern jazz. Check out the way that Evans' piano builds into this one-note figure of Jim Hall's guitar on Hall's composition "Romain."


HORWITZ: It's a real conversation that you associate with chamber music, and in fact the term "chamber jazz" was applied to this kind of playing.

SPELLMAN: Yes, it was Murray. After the success of the Modern Jazz Quartet, who made a concert jazz. That jazz had less emphasis on hard-driving drum and more on the interplay of the instruments, which liberated a lot of musicians. They could float the rhythm. In fact, Evans' piano style on Undercurrent really reminds me of John Lewis, who was, of course, the founder of the Modern Jazz Quartet.

HORWITZ: You can almost imagine what he's doing on guitar.

SPELLMAN: And here, Evans is playing Lewis' composition "Skating In Central Park."


HORWITZ: Lovely impressionistic music that draws a perfect winter afternoon picture, but this is not to say that they don't swing on this record.

SPELLMAN: That they do, but it's a casual swing and it emphasizes the partnership.


HORWITZ: The CD is Undercurrent with the pianist Bill Evans and the guitarist Jim Hall. It's on Blue Note and it's this week's edition to your NPR Basic Jazz Record Library. For NPR Jazz. I'm Murray Horwitz.

SPELLMAN: And, I'm A.B. Spellman.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

A. B. Spellman
Murray Horwitz