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 roomand separate club, called The Top of The Gateof 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 microphonesone for each playerand 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 quartetwhich was performing downstairs at The Village Gatepart 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 itemand another chance to hear one of the greatest jazz pianist of all time.