Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Bill Evans – The Village Vanguard Sessions

The two records of the Bill Evans Trio "Sunday at the Village Vanguard", "Waltz for Debbie" taken at the 25th of June 1961 at the Village Vanguard club in NYC are such a rare moments of recording history (Riverside RS-9376 and RS-9399, both the first stereo releases). They mark a very special moment in Bill Evans biography.



The critic Joachim-Ernst Berendt wrote: "Bill Evans has revolutionized back to the twenties reaching genre of piano trios in jazz. Simply put: Up to 1959 founded Evans Trio played jazz piano trio 'two-dimensional'. On one hand, dominated and led the piano, on the other hand, the rhythm section of bass and drums fell the task of creating the appropriate foundation. In contrast, the Bill Evans Trio played the first piano group in jazz 'three-dimensional': each instrument of the trio could now fall to a leadership role, which had the consequence that Scott LaFaro on bass, not just walking-lines - four quarter notes per measure - played, but also lines he phrased melodically and rhythmically independent of its support function. To the same extent Paul Motian was a play that the timekeeping - marking the Beat-Opened and expanded the melodic percussion additional options "
According to Herbie Hancock opened his concept of the piano trio musicians a whole new way completely to work coherently together. The very first joint album "Portrait in Jazz" from 1959 already shows a then new band concept. Evans, LaFaro and Motian been playing during the presentation of the issues, and not only in the solos, completely equal footing and with each other. The bass takes over melody lines in the upper register, and the drums keep it together with "commenting" interjections. Miroslav Vitouš ruled: "[...]. Communication between the musicians makes it one of the most important ensembles" [Kunzler] "In fact, the trio led, among other conversations in which tender partner, almost seismographic responded to each other," said Michael Naura [Kunzler] Evans achieved its almost "telepathic" communication and intimacy between the musicians. This "chamber music" density was henceforth one of his trademark for decades to come. He left - quite different than he had experienced before - his fellow musicians come to fruition. To his game in the trio and other groups Evans expressed himself thus:

"When I play with a group, I must of course take considerations, because none of these musicians can guess what comes to mind - perhaps to change the key or to change the rhythm. Because it really requires a common intend to a musical unit created. The inner freedom must not remain on the track. It actually strengthens it. "

Tragically 10 days after that sessions at the Village Vanguard in NYC Scott LaFaro died at a car accident.

If you want to play these recordings at their finest level of reproduction possible from a storage medium the vinyl record will do best. Like with almost any recording of that age the first pressing is not only a collectors item, it will bring the best fidelity of this live sessions. Unfortunatly in this case these first releases are very expensive. As tremendous improvement in almost all criteria of fidelity, like dynamics, details, space and finesse, the the Analogue Productions reissues are the records to play today. The early 1990ties release of "Waltz for Debbie" (APJ-009) is nowdays a rare item and therefore quite expensive as well, but its finest fidelity improves a lot about the original Riverside releases. Analogue Production releases of the formative years between 1990 and 2000 are always the best possible sounding records pressed into vinyl. The later (2007) release of "Sunday at the Village Vanguard" (OJC-140) is as well very good indeed.

Read on soon, Volker


Joachim-Ernst Behrendt: Das Jazzbuch – von New Orleans bis in die achtziger Jahre. Überarb. und fortgeführt von Günther Huesmann. 4. Auflage, Wolfgang Krüger Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 1992
Martin Kunzler; Jazzlexikon. Rowohlt, Reinbek