|Bill Evans; Toots Thielemans - Affinity
|AMG Review (3):
Pianist Bill Evans (who doubles on electric piano on this album for the final time in the recording studio) welcomes guest harmonica player Toots Thielemans and Larry Schneider (on tenor, soprano and alto flute) to an outing with bassist Marc Johnson (making his recording debut with Evans) and drummer Eliot Zigmund. The material contains some surprises (including Paul Simon's "I Do It for Your Love" and Michel Legrand's "The Other Side of Tonight") and only two jazz standards ("Body & Soul" and "Blue and Green") with the latter being the only Evans composition. Excellent if not essential music that Evans generally uplifts. — Scott Yanow
A low-key date from 1978, AFFINITY features the interesting pairing of Bill Evans with harmonica virtuoso Toots Thielemans. The results are surprisingly pretty, if unspectacular compared with the piano giant's more productive partnerships (with Jim Hall, Tony Bennett, etc.). Evans plays Fender Rhodes on several cuts, the best of which (tenor/alto/flute player Larry Schneider's "Tomato Kiss") has, in part due to the rubbery, Latin-influenced stylings of bassist Marc Johnson, a distinct spy-movie feel more characteristic of the early '60s than late '70s. Johnson, whose work with Evans is sometimes unfairly dismissed as lightweight in comparison to that of longtime Evans sidemen Scott LaFaro and Eddie Gomez, really shines throughout AFFINITY, proving himself an interesting and sensitive, if vastly different foil. Thielemans, as good as he is, fails to produce any real sparks on this record, often seeming to be in attendance purely to carry the melody on top while Evans develops gentle waves of harmonic richness underneath. A notable exception is the opening track, a sublime version of Paul Simon's "I Do It for Your Love"--an unusual choice that Thielemans, Johnson and Evans infuse with a quiet grace.