Jazz pianist Bill Evans began a quiet revolution in the early 1960s. Before Evans, jazz piano trios spotlighted the pianist while the others essentially accompanied him or her. Evans envisioned a trio where all three musicians were on an equal footing, where they'd truly interact. "Sunday at the Village Vanguard", recorded live in 1961, captures the original Bill Evans Trio at its peak. Drummer Paul Motian plays with grace, subtlety, and restraint that are equal to Evans's, and bassist Scott LaFaro (who also played with Ornette Coleman) has a rapport with the others that seems telepathic. Evans absorbed the bebop approach to the keys but also took inspiration from the suave pianism of Nat "King" Cole and 20th-century classical Impressionism. "Sunday" is piano trio jazz that's executed so beautifully one might not notice how complex it really is.
This LP comes from a live 1975 concert by the Bill Evans Trio, which was broadcast by Radio Suisse in Switzerland. The pianist is in superb form, joined by longtime bassist Eddie Gomez and newcomer Eliot Zigmund on drums. The sound is excellent, without the annoying announcers or distortion, so this release could have very well been produced from the master tape itself. The set is wide-ranging, including both recent and older compositions by Evans, "Gloria's Step" (the best-known work by former Evans sideman Scott LaFaro, who died far too young), along with standards like a buoyant "My Romance." The leader's treatment of his ballad "Turn Out the Stars" is rather upbeat, while his somewhat avant-garde composition "T.T.T.T." (also known as "Twelve Tone Tune Two") is a modern masterpiece. Perhaps the greatest surprise was Evans' inventive treatment of pop singer Bobbie Gentry's "Morning Glory."
2008 digitally remastered two CD set featuring a superb performance by the last edition of the Bill Evans Trio. Less than a year before his death, Bill Evans traveled to Madrid, Spain, to play three nights at a small venue called the Balboa Jazz Club. One of those magic nights was recorded and appears here in its entirety. The music from the December 12, 1979 Balboa concert was privately recorded and the sound quality leaves much to be desired. However, the music has been reprocessed and sounds better here than on any previous release.
This release presents a complete never before released live performance by the great Bill Evans with an unusual trio that never made a studio album (featuring drummer Philly Joe Jones and bassist Marc Johnson). Joining them are Lee Konitz for three amazing quartet tracks, Curtis Fuller (who joins Konitz and the trio for a marvelous quintet version of Lover Man), and Stan Getz and Christian Escoude (who join Fuller and the trio for the finale on All the Things You Are). A rare interview with Evans made right after the Nice concert has also been included on this release, as well as another unissued concert by the same trio taped in Italy a few days later.