Last year, Craft Recordings delivered an impressive career-spanning salute to late pianist-composer Bill Evans. The title of that box set, Everybody Still Digs Bill Evans, rings true today as the label has announced a remastered reissue of one of Evans' finest studio albums, the posthumous release You Must Believe in Spring. It's due on June 3 in 180-gram vinyl, CD, hybrid stereo SACD (playable on all CD players), and digital formats.
Produced by Tommy LiPuma and Evans' longtime manager Helen Keane and engineered by Al Schmitt, You Must Believe in Spring has long been acclaimed as perhaps Evans' best-sounding album. It was also his final studio recording with bassist Eddie Gomez and drummer Eliot Zigmund. That iteration of the Bill Evans Trio had been playing together for three years (both live and in the studio) and had achieved an easy rapport in the conversational style so cherished by Evans.
Recorded on August 23-25, 1977 at Capitol Studios in Hollywood, You Must Believe in Spring displays the delicate introspection that characterizes the pianist's finest work. Michel Legrand's sweepingly romantic title track was plucked from his score to Jacques Demy's The Young Girls of Rochefort. The Trio also reinterpreted Johnny Mandel's "Suicide Is Painless," the melancholy theme to film and television's M*A*S*H. Evans turned to the jazz songbook, too, surveying tunes from Jimmy Rowles, Gary McFarland, and Argentinean pianist Sergei Mihanovich. He rounded out the LP with two originals. "B Minor Waltz (For Ellaine)" - one of four waltzes on the album - was penned for his late companion Ellaine Shultz. "We Will Meet Again (For Harry)" was dedicated to his late brother. The latter composition would be revisited by Evans two years later as the title song of his final studio album.
The 180-gram vinyl release of You Must Believe in Spring boasts all-analog mastering, cut at 45 RPM from the original tapes by Kevin Gray at Cohearent Audio. Pressed on 180-gram vinyl at RTI Record Technology, Inc. (RTI), it's presented as a 2-LP set in a gatefold package, with new liner notes from music historian Marc Myers.
The CD, hybrid SACD, and high-resolution digital editions feature three bonus tracks, all of which were originally issued on Rhino's 2003 expanded edition. Cole Porter's "All of You," Vincent Youmans, Billy Rose, and Edward Eliscu's "Without a Song," and Miles Davis' "Freddie Freeloader" were all recorded during the sessions but left out of the final running order; Evans likely omitted them because they didn't fit comfortably with the album's beautifully elegiac mood. Evans had first recorded "All of You" in 1961, while "Without a Song" was new to his repertoire. "Freddie Freeloader" was the only track on Davis' 1959 masterwork Kind of Blue on which Evans did not perform (Wynton Kelly played instead); he tackled it here on electric piano.
Audio for the CD, high resolution digital, and SACD versions has been transferred from the original master tapes using the Plangent Processes and newly remastered by Paul Blakemore. The SACD release is exclusive to the Craft Recordings store while other formats will be available at general retail.
One month after the conclusion of the studio sessions, Eddie Gomez departed the Trio after 11 years. Zigmund, who joined the Trio in 1974, departed later that year. But the three friends had a reunion in 1980 when Evans was performing with his new lineup. In the press release, Zigmund remembers, "On a break, the three of us went to sit in Bill's Chevy Impala parked nearby. He wanted us to listen to a tape of the unreleased You Must Believe in Spring. As we listened, I was transported back to the trio's conversational beauty. The music was special, and no one in the car said a word. Though Bill's face was expressionless while listening, we knew from his big parting smile that he was very happy with what he heard. That's the last time I saw Bill." Bill Evans died in September at the age of 51. Five months later, the LP was released on the Warner Bros. label. Marc Myers writes that the pianist was proud of the work: "For Evans, perfection was an elusive target and a career-long obsession," writes Myers. "You Must Believe in Spring is a studio album [that] Evans felt hit the mark."
Look for Craft Recordings' reissues on June 3. You'll find the track listings and pre-order links below.
Bill Evans, You Must Believe in Spring (Warner Bros. LP HS 3504, 1981 - reissued Craft Recordings, 2022)
- B Minor Waltz (For Ellaine)
- You Must Believe in Spring
- Gary's Theme
- We Will Meet Again (For Harry)
- The Peacocks
- Sometime Ago
- Theme from M*A*S*H (Suicide Is Painless)
- Without A Song (*)
- Freddie Freeloader (*)
- All Of You (*)
(*) CD/SACD/Digital Bonus Tracks, all first released on Warner Bros./Rhino CD R2 73719, 2003