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Bill Evans/Andy LaVerne/John Patitucci/Steve Davis - Modern Days and Nights


Bill Evans - Soprano/Tenor Sax, Andy LaVerne - Piano, John Patitucci - Bass, Steve Davis - Drums

1. A Cole Porter Flat (8:12) SQ
2. I Love You (7:30) SQ

3. Love For Sale (8:34) TQ

4. What Is This Thing Called Love (8:11) SQ

5. Everytime We Say Goodbye (7:27) TQ

6. I've Got You Under My Skin (6:21) Bass/Piano/Drums trio

7. Just One Of Those Things (8:41) TQ

8. Everything I Love (4:08) Soprano Sax/Piano duo

9. Night And Day (7:09) TQ

Total Time (66:39)

TQ = Tenor Quartet
SQ = Soprano Quartet

Listen to CD Tracks

     There’s an interesting story behind the making of the splendid music on Modern Days And Nights that has at its source a modern jazz classic, John Coltrane’s “Giant Steps.”

    When the great tenor saxophonist recorded the brisk 16-bar tune in 1959, he demonstrated a wholly new way of looking at chord progressions, utilizing the basic II-V-I cadences in an imaginative, unpredictable manner that opened up harmonic vistas for countless musicians.

    Among these was keyboardist Andy LaVerne, known not only for his fluent, perceptive work with Stan Getz from 1977-1980, but also for his powerful solo albums, such as 1990’s Pleasure Seekers (Triloka) and 1995’s Time Well Spent (Concord Jazz). The pianist had long insinuated the Coltrane canon into his oeuvre.

    Last summer, LaVerne was teaching an improvisation workshop at a jazz camp conducted by renowned clinician and educator Jamey Aebersold–highly regarded throughout the world of jazz musicians for his now 70-plus play-a-long recordings that, as he accurately puts it, “have changed the way musicians practice.”

    “We were going through some tunes and I decided to try ‘Giant Steps,’” says LaVerne. “There were a lot of problems, so I tried it as a slower bossa nova and all of sudden the students, ranging in age from their late teens to their 30s, could play it.”

    Next in this serendipitous journey came an article for Keyboard Magazine, for whom LaVerne has written since 1984. The piece was a “Master Class” on “Giant Steps,” inspired by his experience at the camp. "I broke the tune down into small phrases, and made exercises out of them,” he says. The article, written in July, was published in the November issue as “Twelve Steps to Giant Steps.”

    About this time, LaVerne had been trying to interest Aebersold in a play-a-long recording of the music of Chick Corea, but, for various reasons, that project didn’t materialize. Instead, Aebersold, who had read the Keyboard piece, suggested a “Giant Steps”-based play-a-long.

    So LaVerne gathered up a few Coltrane tunes that were based on the “Giant Steps” formula–”Countdown,” “26-2,” etc.–plus a few originals, and started rehearsing with bassist John Patitucci and drummer Steve Davis (all three live near each other in Westchester County, outside New York City) for what ultimately became the newly-out Countdown to Giant Steps.

    “That trio felt so nice, we thought ‘Why not do something else that wasn’t a play-along?’ ”  Manhattan native LaVerne, and spokesperson for this project, recalls. They tossed around horn players’ names, with Davis suggesting Bill Evans, who came aboard. “So we had the group, but no focus,” says LaVerne.

    Enter Jamey D. Aebersold, owner of Double Time Records, and the clinician’s son. He said an album of one composer would be a good idea, but in a modern setting, “and I thought of Cole Porter,” says LaVerne, a fan of the fabled composer who died in 1964 at age 71.

    The group got together and talked tunes, and offered possibilities  for LaVerne, who tailored the material for a group sound. For example, Patitucci suggested the “Giant Steps” reharmonization that we hear on “Night and Day,” which was inspired by Joe Henderson’s version of the song.

    The pianist also had solid, non “Giant Steps” instincts. For “Everytime We Say Goodbye” and “Everything I Love,” he employed modulating key centers. On “What Is This Thing Called Love?” “I did a slight reharmonization, and added an interlude at one point which became the intro. Then John came up with the bassline which is one of the highlights of the record.”

    Patitucci is also featured on “I’ve Got You Under My Skin,” a rendition LaVerne patterned after a favorite recording, Intermodulation (1966), with Bill Evans and Jim Hall. (LaVerne studied for a brief period in the late ‘60s with Evans and says, “I trace all my use of interesting harmonies from those lessons.”) The pianist turned “Just One of Those Things” into a waltz and “Love For Sale” into a Brazilian chorinho. “I wanted something that contrasted what we are used to hearing,” he says.

    Last but decidedly not least is LaVerne’s “A Cole Porter Flat,” a play on words on “Cold Water Flat.” “It’s not a tune that Cole Porter would write but one which gave a modern feeling yet retained something of the Tin Pan Alley era that Porter’s songs did,” he says. “Funny, I think my originals are more like standards, whereas my versions of standards sound more like originals.”

    LaVerne “really digs” Modern Days and Nights and says the players achieved their aim: to make modern, invigorating music that has a band sound to it, not like a jam session or a “bunch of cats getting together for a recording.” I agree, and perhaps a major reason for the affinity of the musicians is that they’ve almost all played with one another for many years.

    Patitucci, who calls his decade from 1985 to 1995 with Chick Corea a pivotal experience and whose latest album, One More Angel, is due out soon, first played with LaVerne on Pleasure Seekers. Evans, a Miles Davis bandstand mate in the early ‘80s whose newest recording is Escape, met LaVerne when they played with bassist Miroslav Vitous in 1980. Davis, who has worked with Dave Liebman, Richie Beirach and Lynne Arriale and whose debut album is due out on DMP Records, has paired with LaVerne on sessions at Aebersold clinics. “He’s a really good drummer,” says Patitucci.

    LaVerne hopes Modern Days And Nights is just a beginning. “I’d like to follow this with some live gigs and more recordings,” he says. “The chemistry is really nice.”

    ‘Trane would think so, too.

Zan Stewart   February 17, 1997
Contributor to Down Beat Magazine, Stereophile & Swing Journal

    Cole Porter wrote some of the most enduring songs of this century. So, when it came time to choose material for this collection, the problem was not a matter of inclusion, rather a matter of selection. Along with the intrinsic beauty of his compositions, Porter infused his songs with a malleability to absorb countless interpretations. While playing jazz is more expressive than interpretive, the arranging and harmonization of familiar melodies opens the way to interpretation.

    The expressive side of this project was covered by the musicians. The chemistry between Bill, John, Steve, and myself proved most gratifying. The result of having the Porter tunes as vehicles for self-expression, is the four of us coalescing into a strong, yet flexible unit. Of course the gentle, genial, and generous guidance of Jamey D. Aebersold certainly helped complete the package. We really had fun playing, so have fun listening!

Andy LaVerne   February 1997