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Bill Evans: Live At Art D'Lugoff's Top of The Gate

Edward Blanco By

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Legendary jazz pianist Bill Evans has been gone since 1980; nevertheless, his music continues to inspire new generations of young musicians and remains an integral part of jazz history. Live At Art D'Lugoff's Top of The Gate celebrates Evans' memory, capturing the great pianist and his trio performing in the upstairs room—and separate club, called The Top of The Gate—of The Village Gate night club in Greenwich Village, founded by Art D'Lugoff back in 1958. Never released until now, this piece of musical history was made possible because then-22 year-old engineer George Klabin was given permission to record the October 23, 1968 date by Evans' longtime manager, Helen Keane. The Village Gate closed its doors in 1993 and Klabin is now President and founder of the Rising Jazz Stars Foundation, of which the Los Angeles-based Resonance Records label is the centerpiece.

Available in a deluxe two-CD package, Live also includes a 28-page booklet, complete with photographs, liner notes from producer Zev Feldman, Klabin, jazz critic Nat Hentoff and vibraphonist Gary Burton, as well as notes from Puerto Rican bassist Eddie Gomez and drummer Marty Morell—both of whom performed that night as part of the Evans Trio. Another important feature of this outing is how the recording was done. Unlike many live recordings of the past where one microphone was usually the preferred method of capturing a concert, Klabin used three microphones—one for each player—and mixed the concert live, to produce the set's excellent sound quality.

Performing two sets of standards from The Great American Song Book, as well as jazz classics from Duke Ellington and Thelonious Monk, Evans' trio was, along with saxophonist Charles Lloyd's quartet—which was performing downstairs at The Village Gate—part of an incredible double-bill during the week of this recording. Live features several firsts, including the first-ever Evans Trio recordings of "My Funny Valentine" and "Mother of Earl," and the first live recording of "Yesterdays." The album also serves to document Evans' only recording of Cy Coleman's "Witchcraft," and is believed to be his only recording at The Gate.

At the time of this gig, Evans and Gomez had been together for two years in what would eventually be an eleven-year association, while Morell had just joined the trio the week of the performance; still, the music tells a different story. Evans, Gomez and Morell are inseparable, playing off each other like a single unit as if they had been together for years. As might be expected, the pianist delivers many brilliant statements. Live At Art D'Lugoff's Top of The Gate is but a moment in time, capturing the iconic Evans at the top of his game in a recording that will certainly serve as a collector's item—and another chance to hear one of the greatest jazz pianist of all time.

Track Listing: CD1: Emily; Witchcraft; Yesterdays; Round Midnight; My Funny Valentine; California Here I Come; Gone With The Wind; Alfie; Turn Out The Stars. CD2: Yesterdays; Emily; Round Midnight; In A Sentimental Mood; Autumn Leaves; Someday My Prince Will Come; Mother of Earl; Here's That Rainy Day.

Personnel: Bill Evans: piano; Eddie Gomez: bass; Marty Morell: drums.

Title: Live At Art D'Lugoff's Top Of The Gate | Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: Resonance Records


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