All About Jazz

Home » Articles » Extended Analysis

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

699

Bill Evans Trio: Bill Evans Trio: Sunday At The Village Vanguard & Waltz for Debby

C. Michael Bailey By

Sign in to view read count

Bill Evans Trio
Sunday At The Village Vanguard
Riverside 9376
1961

Waltz for Debby
Riverside 9399
1961

To look at Bill Evans in the 1950s and '60s, one might think that he was the most unlikely looking jazz titan to ever depress a piano key. Thin and bespectacled with a dweeb's haircut, Evan's was the picture of a bookish intellectual. He was well versed in the European Impressionism of Les Six and Debussy, deftly folding that introspection into performances of the American Musical Canon, as well as his own classic compositions. Serious about his craft, doubtful of his significance, Evans produced a body of music that had the most profound effect on all pianists to play jazz after him. Perhaps Bud Powell was as influential before Evans, but I think conventional wisdom does not tend that way.



Had Bud Powell and Bill Evans not existed, Jazz would have had to invent them. In piano performances, they represented muscle and finesse respectively. Using tennis as an analogy, the brilliantly technical Bud Powell was to the disciplined Bjorn Borg as the thoughtfully nuanced Evans was to the net play master John McEnroe. They were necessary presences in the music, both existing as a feather floating in the breath of culture.



After kicking around as a sideman for the likes of Tony Scott, Chet Baker, Cannonball Adderley, and Miles Davis (contributing to the fabulous Kind of Blue with the latter), Evans formed his first and perhaps greatest trio in late 1959 and released five LPs that were to define the art of the trio. Along with Bassist wunderkind Scott LaFaro and drummer Paul Motian, Evans perfected his democratic vision of trio cooperation, where all members performed with perfect empathy and telepathy. Three of these five LPs (now two compact discs) detailed this trio's performances one Sunday afternoon in mid-1961 at New York City's fabled Village Vanguard. It is these performances, currently available as Sunday at The Village Vanguard and Waltz for Debby that comprise the number one best jazz live recording in this present series.



Pure and thoughtful musicality permeates the 20 performances of 12 disparate songs. Evans, LaFaro, and Motian slide over and under one another in a sumptuously alchemic solution, resulting in a single homogenous musical thought expressed in one voice from three distinctive philosophies. Evans is quiet on "My Foolish Heart," angular on the two Miles Davis originals "Solar" and "Milestones" originals, and totally inward on Porgy and Bess ballads "My Man's Gone Now" and "I loves You, Porgy." Scott LaFaro's "Gloria's Step" and "Jade Visions" are crystalline in their brevity and starkness, pulling the trio to the heights of perfect empathetic cooperation.



All that remains is the hope that one day Fantasy, Inc. will find the lost sides of that early summer afternoon 40 years ago and release a complete recording as they have done for so many other artists, including Evans. We should honor the quiet genius in these songs.


The Ten Best Live Jazz Recordings

















#1
At The Village
Vanguard


Bill Evans Trio (1961)



#6
At The Village
Vanguard


Sonny Rollins (1957)





#2
At The Village
Vanguard


John Coltrane (1961)



#7
At Birdland


John Coltrane (1963)





#3
At The
Plugged Nickel


Miles Davis (1965)



#8
Smokin' At The
Half Note


Wes Montgomery (1965)





#4
At Antibes


Charles Mingus (1960)



#9
Concert
By The Sea


Errol Garner (1955)





#5
At Newport
1956


Duke Ellington (1956)



#10
At Massey Hall


The Quintet (1953)



#11 - The Best of the Rest ...

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read Trouble No More - The Bootleg Series Vol. 13 / 1979-1981 Extended Analysis
Trouble No More - The Bootleg Series Vol. 13 / 1979-1981
by Doug Collette
Published: November 19, 2017
Read Love, Gloom, Cash, Love Extended Analysis
Love, Gloom, Cash, Love
by Patrick Burnette
Published: October 21, 2017
Read Motel Shot: Expanded Edition Extended Analysis
Motel Shot: Expanded Edition
by Doug Collette
Published: July 16, 2017
Read Long Strange Trip: The Untold Story of the Grateful Dead Motion Picture Soundtrack Extended Analysis
Long Strange Trip: The Untold Story of the Grateful Dead...
by Doug Collette
Published: July 14, 2017
Read Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band 50th Anniversary Super Deluxe  Edition Extended Analysis
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band 50th...
by Doug Collette
Published: May 27, 2017
Read Singles: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack - Deluxe Edition Extended Analysis
Singles: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack - Deluxe Edition
by Doug Collette
Published: May 20, 2017
Read "Ella Fitzgerald: 100 Songs For A Centennial" Extended Analysis Ella Fitzgerald: 100 Songs For A Centennial
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: April 29, 2017
Read "Trouble No More - The Bootleg Series Vol. 13 / 1979-1981" Extended Analysis Trouble No More - The Bootleg Series Vol. 13 / 1979-1981
by Doug Collette
Published: November 19, 2017
Read "Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band 50th Anniversary Super Deluxe  Edition" Extended Analysis Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band 50th...
by Doug Collette
Published: May 27, 2017