First Release of Historic Concerts in Holland
Bernie Grundman has mastered newly discovered recordings of Bill Evan’s historic concerts in Hilversum and Amsterdam. “Behind the Dikes: The 1969 Netherlands Recordings” debuts on Record Store Day, July 17, from Elemental Records as a three-LP set, mastered at 33 1/3 RPM by engineer Bernie Grundman and pressed at Standard Vinyl in Toronto, Canada. It will be issued on July 23rd as a two-CD package and as a digital download.
Produced in conjunction with the Bill Evans Estate and the Dutch producer and researcher Frank Jochemsen, the album is the first Bill Evans project to be issued by Elemental Music, founded in 2013 by Spanish producer Jordi Soley and Resonance Records co-president Zev Feldman. Feldman, known as the “Jazz Detective” for his archival archaeological work, has made unearthing unheard and rare recordings by jazz giant Evans something of a personal specialty. Feldman has worked with mastering engineer Bernie Grundman on dozens of historic releases over the past ten years.
During his long and varied career, Evans mostly played in trios. His use of impressionist harmony, inventive interpretation of traditional jazz repertoire, block chords, and trademark rhythmically independent, “singing” melodic lines continues to influence jazz pianists today. In 1958, he joined Miles Davis’s sextet, which in 1959 recorded “Kind of Blue,” the best-selling jazz album of all time.
“Behind the Dikes” co-producer Zev Feldman says of the new Elemental Records title, “These recordings capture Evans at his very best, with his longest standing trio. I’m so happy to be working once again with Evan Evans and the Bill Evans Estate, Eddie Gomez and Marty Morell to officially present more music from Evans as part of his grand recorded legacy.”
Bill Evans at KRO Studio 1, Hilversum, March 26, 1969. Photo by: Nico van der Stam/MAI
In late 1959, Evans left the Miles Davis band and began his career as the leader of a group now regarded as a seminal modern jazz trio. The new release is drawn from two March 1969 sessions in Hilversum, Netherlands and another date at the RAI Congrescentrum in Amsterdam that November.
Mastering engineer Bernie Grundman, who has mastered many Bill Evans albums over the years, explained his work on the new collection, “In a case like this, especially when the location recordings actually have a fair amount of difference, the trick is to get them all to sound consistent. One of the location recordings was pretty much all together just the way it sits. It was very well thought out and the balances are good. I did some minor little touch ups and ways of developing a little more ambience and so forth, which is what I do when it’s a good live mix.”
To master the complete package, Grundman was challenged at first by recordings made later that year at a different location. “For the performances done in November of that year, the sound quality was good, but the problem was in the mix. The drums and all the other instruments were a little too loud. It’s all there, but the live mixed balances needed some work, at least in my estimation. Let’s face it; the central figure here is Bill Evans. You don’t want to be distracted by other instruments and so forth when that central figure is in the lead, except when you’re having a drum solo or bass solo or whatever, then that comes up front.”
Grundman’s challenge was to shine an audio spotlight on Evans. “In this particular concert, Bill was just down a little in the mix. That’s a very difficult area for me to deal with, but in this case, what I did wasn’t radical, but required a fair amount of pushing and pulling and moving things around in the spectrum. I’m not remixing it, but we have 36 frequencies that we have access to on our consoles. We can kind of shape it in such a way that we’re actually acting like a mixer in some ways. In the case of this concert, I feel that it ended up solid and very good. He’s more out front like the other location recording. The trick was to make it sound like the concerts were all equally balanced.”
Co-producer Zev Feldman added, “It’s a thrill to be joining forces once again with my co-producer Frank Jochemsen, who was able to locate the original tape reels at the Nederlands Instituut voor Beeld en Geluid in Amsterdam. I was also happy to assemble my creative production team that works with me on all my Resonance Records releases. I wanted this release to have the same style and feel and receive the same level of love and attention as those did. I think we achieved that here.”
Many of Evans’ compositions, such as “Waltz for Debby,” have become standards, played and recorded by hundreds of artists. Evans received 31 Grammy nominations and seven awards, and was inducted into the DownBeat Jazz Hall of Fame in 1981.
Bernie Grundman adds, “Bill Evans is definitely a major figure in jazz. What can you say? He’s just one of those geniuses.”
Bernie Grundman is seen in Hollywood at his cutting lathe. Photo by David Goggin.
Learn more about “Behind the Dikes”: http://www.elemental-music.com/bill-evans-behind-the-dikes-the-1969-netherlands-recordings
ABOUT BERNIE GRUNDMAN MASTERING
The name Bernie Grundman is synonymous with Mastering. His world-renowned facilities, responsible for a consistently large percentage of chart recordings, were launched in 1984. In 1997, Grundman opened his Tokyo mastering studios and in 1998 relocated to expanded facilities in Hollywood. Bernie Grundman Mastering in Hollywood is a complex of six studios, including dedicated 5.1 Surround and Lacquer Cutting rooms. Virtually any analog or digital format can be played back thanks to a deep inventory of modern and legacy equipment. The facility provides high quality vinyl masters, pre-masters for CD, and file masters for standard and high-resolution digital distribution and streaming. https://www.berniegrundmanmastering.com/