Bill Evans was one of the most tragic, and gifted, Jazz musicians of our time.  He was a drug addict for decades and he finally died of his disease in 1980.  One of his friends said that Bill’s death was “the longest suicide in history.”  Bill’s keen sense of melody and rhythm inspired generations of Jazz pianists — and Chick Corea knows he owes a lot of his sound and style to Bill Evans.  Chick’s newest album dropped this week — Further Explorations — and it is a riff on Bill Evan’s trendsetting album, “Explorations.”  Chick uses Bill’s sidemen Eddie Gomez on bass and Paul Motian on drums.  Sadly, Paul died in November 2011.  He was 80.

Here’s the PR blurp for the new album:

The contributions of pianist, composer, arranger and bandleader Bill Evans to the language and appreciation of jazz continue to have a profound influence on musicians. Join master pianist Chick Corea as he leads original Evans alumni – bassist Eddie Gomez and the late drummer Paul Motian – on Further Explorations, a two-CD live set of 19 tracks. The spirit of Evans comes alive thanks to the vibrant simpatico shared by these three master musicians.

Produced by Corea, Further Explorations was recorded May 4-17, 2010, live at the Blue Note in New York City. (2011 marks the 50th anniversary of the release of Evans’ original Explorations LP with Motian and bassist Scott LaFaro on the Riverside label.) In preparation, Corea, Gomez and Motian examined the entire Bill Evans discography. Rather than approach the music as a tribute, his material provides more of a template. Each musician also contributes original material. The results are inspired, as this elevated piano trio plays with near-telepathic empathy and a remarkable blend of ingenuity and emotional depth.

“Further Explorations” is a wonderful work.  The live performances are relaxed and synced and totally wonderful.  You feel as if you’re an intimate in the room.  The taste and tone are terrific and I salute Chick Corea for having the guts to pay tribute to one of his most beloved inspirations.

Here’s the Bill Evans Trio in action.  Sit back and enjoy…

…and be sure to buy Chick Corea’s new album as a thanks for the reminder of the greatness that came before him.

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