In 1962, pianist Bill Evans and guitarist Jim Hall met to record the first of two of the most influential jazz recordings. Piano and guitar duos are rare, as their similarities can make it difficult for the musicians to stay out of each other’s way, but Evans and Hall made their similarities their strength. Both had used space as a key element in their music, moving away from the unrelenting intensity of bebop.
“Undercurrent” from 1962 contained a mix of jazz standards, including a rare up tempo version of “My Funny Valentine,” along with the Hall original “Romain.” In his November 26, 1962 review for Down Beat magazine jazz critic Pete Welding stated: "This collaboration between Evans and Hall has resulted in some of the most beautiful, thoroughly ingratiating music it has been my pleasure to hear.”
Four years later Evans and Halls recorded the second and last of their duo albums. “Intermodulation” continued the mix of standards with originals “Turn Out the Stars” from Evans and “All Across the City” from Hall. Writing for Allmusic, music critic Michael G. Nastos wrote of the album: "A duet recording between pianist Bill Evans and guitarist Jim Hall is one that should retain high expectations to match melodic and harmonic intimacies with brilliant spontaneous musicianship. Where this recording delivers that supposition is in the details and intricacy with which Evans and Hall work, guided by simple framings of standard songs made into personal statements that include no small amounts of innovation.”
Evans died in 1980 at age 50, and they never had the opportunity to record again. Hall died in 2013 at age 83.
Larry McDonough saw Evans perform in the 1970s, and Joel Shapira met Hall when he lived in New York City. Larry and Joel will perform pieces from both recordings, along with pieces that Evans and Hall performed separately that they might have included in another recording had Bill Evans lived longer.
Intermodulating Undercurrents filled the Black Dog and Bad Waitress listening rooms. Come and see why. Hear the magic Bill Evans and Jim Hall made and what might have been.
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Larry McDonough is a St. Paul jazz pianist and singer, performing around the world and recording with his group the Larry McDonough Quartet as well as solo, and in duos and trios. He has performed with legendary saxophonist and composer Benny Golson, Trombonist Fred Wesley, and trumpeter Duane Eubanks, as well as a who’s who of local jazz artists, and was inducted into the Minnesota Rock Country Hall of Fame for his work in the group Danny’s Reasons. He has released nine CDs and DVDs as a leader, including “Simple Gifts,” which reached number 29 on the CMJ Jazz Chart. His current two CD set “Alice in Stonehenge and other AcoustElectric Adventures” is being played on hundreds of stations around the country and throughout the world. He also is a lawyer and law professor selected by William Mitchell College of Law as one of “100 Who Made a Difference” over the 100-year history of the school. Larry directs pro bono legal services for the poor at Dorsey & Whitney.
Guitarist Joel Shapira is an internationally acclaimed musician residing in St. Paul. He's a leader and member of multiple top Twin Cities' jazz ensembles, as well as a master of the demanding discipline of solo guitar. He performs regularly with world class musicians, has numerous recordings to his credit, and is an artist featured on the NYC record label Unseen Rain Records. In 2017, with the release of his first solo guitar recording "In Essence", Shapira has received glowing accolades from critics in Vintage Guitar magazine, The Jazz Police, The Villager newspaper, Jazz writer Andrea Canter, as well as from listeners and fans. KBEM Jazz/88.5FM in the Twin Cities, has given the recording extensive airplay since it's release in early June.