As much of a transformational figure as he was, Scott LaFaro wasn’t the only brilliant bassist who had played in Bill Evans’ trio; Eddie Gomez held that esteemed seat for longer than anybody, from 1966 to 1977. Like LaFaro, Gomez was virtually an equal harmonically as the legendary pianist, and shared Evans’ passion for rich melodicism, a passion that has carried on in his post-Evans works, like for Steps Ahead, Chick Corea and his own projects as a leader.
Brazilian-French pianist Cesarius Alvim isn’t quite the household name in jazz circles that Gomez is, but his low key, harmonically rich style is a welcome change of pace from the power pianists who litter the scene today. As a student of the double-bass himself, Alvim knows which space is his and which is Gomez, and has a special understanding of how rhythm and harmony works together as a bass player does. It makes him a great partner with Gomez, as he accentuates Gomez as much as Gomez accentuates Alvim. Alvim, like virtually even jazz pianist who has come along in the last forty years or so owes some debt to Evans, but Alvim doesn’t really remind me of Evans most of the time, and in a strange way, that’s a plus. If I want to hear Gomez play with a pianist who sounds like Evans, I’d just soon listen to any Evans album recorded during Gomez’s eleven year tenure with him.
A reunion that comes twenty years after their first record collaboration, Forever is a mixture of standards and originals by Gomez and Alvim, all given sensitive and highly lyrical readings. Wayne Shorter’s “Witch Hunt” is among my favorite songs of his and doesn’t get covered that much, so it’s a treat to hear it taken on as the first track of the record. While keeping Shorter’s sublimely dark melody intact, Gomez and Alvim put their personal stamps on it. The intro is remade into a Gomez solo, one that has his world class dexterity, power and big, sonorous footprint on full display. Alvim maintains the driving rhythm and does a uses of full chords which judicious use of single line notes to fill up all the areas of the melody not taken up by Gomez, even modulating tempo on one go around of the chorus. The Rodgers and Hart cover “Spring Is Here” is impressionistic without the two appearing to try that hard to make it that way. “Invitation” invites comparison to the rendition recorded on another Gomez piano-bass duet record of his: 1974′s Intuition with Bill Evans. The shorter version with Alvim puts Gomez in a more prominent role and Alvim is more easygoing and spare in his approach to the song than Evans was on his.
Of the originals, Alvim’s “Shining Star” stands out for the intricate way Gomez negotiates a Brazilian groove, and “Shining Star,” another Alvim composition, is intensely introspective like an Evan ballad. His “Children’s Song” has that same lilting, light waltzing quality that has made “Someday My Prince Will Come” such an ideal cover. Gomez contributes just one song, the title tune, a pensive, gently flowing melody where both Alvim and the composer sound as one harmonic unit.
Forever, out since September 14, gets its star power from the bass player, and Gomez does earn his distinguished reputation on this date. However, this duet is a success because Cesarius Alvim did his part well, too. If you want to hear Eddie Gomez play telepathically with a pianist in a way that retains the beauty of well-chosen songs, get Intuition with Bill Evans. And Forever with Cesarius Alvim.
Forever comes to us via French-based Plus Loin Music.