A Bill Evans Bossa Nova Tune

Bill Evans recorded “The Dolphin” on From Left to Right on Verve in 1971. It features Eddie Gómez on bass, Marty Morell on drums, and Sam Brown on guitar. It’s not considered to be one of his best albums, but it is of interest on two counts:

  • it offers one of his few ventures into bossa nova, a form that he didn’t particularly like
  • it shows him working with the Fender Rhodes

“The Dolphin” is a tune by the Brazilian pianist Luis Eça (April 3, 1936 – May 24, 1992). According to Spotify,

Eça was a great asset to Brazilian music, especially for the bossa nova movement. A highly skilled, classically trained piano player, he could just as easily go from hard and swinging to quiet and introspective, having developed an original musical vocabulary mixing Brazilian rhythmic tradition and erudite advanced harmonies. He was also strongly influenced by jazz, and could perform in the style of any jazz pianist giant, which he used to do, but only for friends, because professionally, he always had a highly distinctive voice.

Here’s a live version by Eça:

I recently became interested in “The Dolphin” and came across the Evans versions by accident. The tune has become somewhat of a standard, with Jacky Terrasson, Stan Getz, Toots Thielemans with Kenny Werner among others recording covers.

Here is a playlist of the takes from Evans’s Verve recordings of the tune. The last two, “The Dolphin-Before” and the “The Dolphin-After” are the versions that made therir way onto the final album. The playlist is sort of like eaves-dropping on an Evans workshop where he is playing around with various configurations of the Rhodes combined with acoustic keys. Enjoy! :musical_keyboard: