Craft Recordings reissue You Must Believe in Spring, the celebrated 70th studio album from the pioneering jazz pianist Bill Evans. Recorded in 1977 and released in 1981, just months after Evans’ death, the album marks the artist’s final studio recording with bassist Eddie Gomez and drummer Eliot Zigmund and includes stunning performances of “We Will Meet Again (for Harry)” and “B Minor Waltz (for Ellaine).”
One of the most influential artists in the history of jazz, Bill Evans (1929–1980) was known for his conversational interplay within his trios, his lyrical compositions and his matchless approach to the piano. His work with Gomez and Zigmund on You Must Believe in Spring offers a brilliant example of all three. At the time that they recorded the album, in August 1977, this particular iteration of the Bill Evans Trio had reached their apex, after three busy years of live performances and studio outings (including 1977’s Crosscurrents and I Will Say Goodbye). Speaking to Marc Myers, Zigmund recalls, “We had reached a high level of conversational playing … By Spring, we captured that ease of relating to each other.”
Recorded over three days at Hollywood’s famed Capitol Studios, the album paired Evans with the legendary producer Tommy LiPuma, whose extensive credits included Barbra Streisand, George Benson and Natalie Cole, among many others. Together, they selected an introspective collection of material which, notes Marc Myers, gave the album “a gentle, melancholy feel and a music-box tenderness.” Among them were two deeply personal Evans originals: “B Minor Waltz (for Ellaine),” composed in the memory of the pianist’s late common-law wife, Ellaine Shultz, and “We Will Meet Again (for Harry),” written for the artist’s late brother. Two years later, Evans would revisit the latter composition, designating it as the title track of his final studio recording. The remainder of the tracklist offered Evans the space to interpret a broad array of material—from lesser-known gems like “Gary’s Theme,” a 1968 composition by vibraphonist Gary McFarland, to such popular fare as Sergio Mihanovich’s “Sometime Ago.” On LiPuma’s suggestion, Evans also delivered an inspired interpretation of “Theme From M*A*S*H (Suicide Is Painless),” the highly recognizable instrumental opener from the popular TV series. The title track, meanwhile, was a standard of the era, penned by the prolific French film composer Michel Legrand for 1967’s The Young Girls of Rochefort.
The CD, includes three bonus tracks from the sessions, including the trio’s renditions of the Cole Porter classic “All of You” and the Vincent Youmans standard “Without a Song.” The jovial “Freddie Freeloader,” meanwhile, finds Evans revisiting his early years as a member of Miles Davis’ band. Interestingly, the selection not only features a rare performance by Evans on the electric piano, but also marks the only track on Davis’ Kind of Blue that the pianist did not appear on.