A duet recording between pianist Bill Evans and guitarist Jim Hall is one that should retain high expectations to match melodic and harmonic intimacies with brilliant spontaneous musicianship. Where this recording delivers that supposition is in the details and intricacy with which Evans and Hall work, guided by simple framings of standard songs made into personal statements that include no small amounts of innovation.
Only two standards are included, and begin the program before the duo merges into some original material with some foraging off the beaten path, along with tender notions that should please anyone. If you hear the melody of the opener, "I've Got You Under My Skin," in your head, you'd never believe Evans and Hall could conceive of this reharmonized and essentially improvised take, full of interplay and invention.
The classic waltz version of "My Man's Gone Now" is closer to a stock rendition, except that Evans wrings out every bit of somber emotion in a spontaneous manner. Hall's "All Across the City" -- by now a revered standard -- is heard here in an early version with languid, serene, and peaceful tones. Another similarly iconic standard is "Turn Out the Stars," mostly a solo piano work with Evans hinting at quotes of Dave Brubeck's "In Your Own Sweet Way." The most unusual choice is Joe Zawinul's "Angel Face," with a naturally delicate lead from Hall's guitar, while Claus Ogerman's "Jazz Samba" injects a bit of energy into this otherwise easygoing set, with Hall's basslines setting off some bright harmonic reinforcements.
AllMusic Review by Michael G. Nastos
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