Bill Evans, Village Vanguard Recordings

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Have you ever gone to a hotel bar or a jazz club where there was a piano trio playing (piano, bass and drums) and you really couldn’t appreciate the performers because the audience was so inattentive and boisterous?  The Complete Village Vanguard recordings by Bill Evans are just that with a major exception the audience was laser focused on the performers and you could hear a pin drop. When I entertain, I play these selections and they invariably capture everyone’s attention and not just jazz enthusiast.

This collection recorded June 25, 1961, has long since acquired legendary status. The unique voicings of Evans have influenced over a generation of jazz pianists who have followed him, weaves one masterpiece after another with bassist Scott LaFaro a promising composer and phenomenal bassist and the equally valuable drummer Paul Motian. The interplay between them is intoxicating throughout each of their five sets from the final day of a summer gig at the Village Vanguard NY, NY. 

This beautifully remastered three-CD collection restores the previously omitted take of "Gloria's Step" marred only by a brief power outage and the humorous finale by Evans at the end of the night first issued in the massive Complete Riverside Recordings box set. The songs are in their original recorded sequence, adding a bit of ambience and audience reaction between numbers. Sadly, it was the trio's final recording, as LaFaro died in a car crash ten days later. The selections from this three-CD box set have been reissued numerous times over the years, but this is the first time that all of them have been collected in one U.S. release. Orrin Keepnews, the original producer, updates the liner notes he previously contributed to earlier issues of this music with a thoughtful commentary. This is an essential purchase, whether you are a novice or seasoned jazz fan.

Bill Evans the jazz pianists who was featured on the greatest jazz album of all time (Miles Davis, Kind of Blue 1959) was an American jazz pianist and composer who mostly worked in a trio setting. He is widely considered to be one of the greatest jazz pianists of all time, and is considered by some to have been the most influential post-World War II jazz pianist. Evans's use of impressionist harmony, inventive interpretation of traditional jazz repertoire, block chords, and trademark rhythmically independent, "singing" melodic lines continue to influence jazz pianists today. 

Born in Plainfield, New Jersey, he was classically trained and studied at Southeastern Louisiana University. In 1955, he moved to New York, where he worked with bandleader and theorist George Russell. Unlike many other jazz musicians of his time, Evans never embraced new movements like jazz fusion or free jazz.

Many of his compositions, such as "Waltz for Debby", have become standards and have been played and recorded by many artists. Evans was honored with 31 Grammy nominations and seven awards, and was inducted in the Down Beat Jazz Hall of Fame.

Take a musical interlude and listen to Bill Evans Trio's My Romance here.

 

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