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Bernie Grundman Masters Bill Evans Live Sets

Bernie Grundman has mastered newly discovered recordings of Bill Evans’ historic concerts in Hilversum and Amsterdam, which will debut on Record Store Day.

Bernie Grundman is seen in Hollywood at his cutting lathe
Bernie Grundman is seen in Hollywood at his cutting lathe. David Goggin

Hollywood, CA (April 21, 2021)—Bernie Grundman has mastered newly discovered recordings of Bill Evans’ historic concerts in Hilversum and Amsterdam, which will debut on Record Store Day, July 17, from Elemental Records as a three-LP set, mastered at 33 1/3 r.p.m.

Produced in conjunction with the Bill Evans Estate and the Dutch producer and researcher Frank Jochemsen, the album is the first 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 10 years.

Grundman, who has mastered many Evans albums, 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.”

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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.”

Behind the Dikes: The 1969 Netherlands Recordings, pressed at Standard Vinyl in Toronto, Canada, will be issued on July 23 as a two-CD package and as a digital download.

Bernie Grundman Mastering • www.berniegrundmanmastering.com

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