Bill Evans Trio at the Village Vanguard
Riverside/Universal Music; Rs. 295 (CD)
Many jazz fans know Bill Evans primarily as the pianist on Miles Davis’s all-time jazz bestseller album, “Kind of Blue”. He was nearly 30 when he worked on that. But more knowledgeable jazz buffs recognise him as one of the greatest pianists in modern jazz (the be-bop period onwards), one whose technique wasn’t as dazzling as the nimble-fingered Oscar Peterson’s, but whose thoughtful use of rhythm, phrasing, harmony and timing made his music profound and evocative. His greatest work came as a pianist either leading a trio comprising a bassist and a drummer or working solo.
This 1961 album is based on a single day’s work at one of New York’s celebrated jazz clubs, but the tracks are taken from both his afternoon and evening sessions. Scott La Faro on bass and Paul Motian on drums make up Evans’s support. Five of the ten tracks were apparently performed in both sessions, since either “Take 1” or “Take 2” appears in parentheses after the track title. Whether fast, medium-paced or slow, every track carries the introspective feeling that was a hallmark of Evans’s style. This stamp is especially marked on pieces where he starts with a slow-paced solo intro and later speeds up the tempo when the theme and solo improvisations come on. La Faro gets plenty of room for solos, as is characteristic of Evans’s music in contrast to that of some other pianists. Motian also gets in a couple of drum solos. All three discharge their duties, evenly distributed, with distinction. Evans’s famous composition “Waltz for Debby” and Davis’s “Milestones” are most notable, but in fact all the pieces are a delight.JAZZEBEL