The bassist Scott LaFaro, whom Evans lost to a car crash prior to recording this, was staking out entirely striking counterpoint on his instrument, so anything without him was likely to seem a letdown. Evans still had drummer Paul Motian and himself, though (two of the most remarkable players jazz has ever welcomed), so anything, even without LaFaro, was worth hearing.
How My Heart Sings, recorded at the same time as the mellower Moon Beams, confounds on the surface and forces the listener beneath it. I eventually learned to appreciate, if not exactly love, LaFaro’s replacement Chuck Israels, who isn’t miked well at all and whose ruminations, short but melodically logical variations on the melody, require headphones. Evans acknowledges famous head melodies, i.e., “Summertime” but with dropped licks, changes suggested with just two pushes on the keys. He’s hungry for the meat in the sandwich.
Three tunes here, including the title track and two takes of Evans’s own “34 Skidoo,” alternate between 3/4 and 4/4 time, but in the nicest possible way — it’s hard to tell. Motian makes up his own rhythmic language and speaks it in brushes, over any possible meter. The trio waves to Dave Brubeck with Bru’s “In Your Own Sweet Way,” but unlike that pianist, they weren’t interested in showing the seams between meter changes. They wanted swing, on their own sweet terms, their own language. They got fluent.
- Artist: Bill Evans
- Album: How My Heart Sings (reissue)
- Label: Concord/Original Jazz Classics
- Songs: (1) How My Heart Sings (2) I Should Care (3) In Your Own Sweet Way (4) Walking Up (5) Summertime (6) 34 Skidoo (7) Ev’rything I Love (8) Show-Type Tune (9) In Your Own Sweet Way (take 2) (10) 34 Skidoo (take 9) (11) Ev’rything I Love (take 2)