Selection: Israel (John Carisi)
Bill Evans (piano) Scott LaFaro (bass) Paul Motian (drums) recorded NYC, February 2, 1961
Evans reinterpretation of the tune “Israel” for trio is sheer artistry. The tune, written by Trumpeter Johnny Carisi, first appeared on Miles Davis “Birth of the Cool”. To see whether the two bore any resemblance, I dug out the Miles Davis Nonet version (JJ Johnson, Gerry Mulligan, Lee Konitz etc) recorded April 22nd 1949.
Sample: Miles Davis “Israel”
Despite repeated plays I am still looking for the same tune.
It always impresses me when musicians, on hearing a band playing jazz, just reel off the song credit “Oh that’s so and so”. I only know that because the band leader introduced it over the PA.
Jazz critic Roger Cook remarks that LaFaro and Evans had an argument just before the recording session for Explorations, resulting in a degree of “brittleness”. I’d never have known that either. Sometimes you can have too much information.
Vinyl: Riverside RLP 12-351 UK Interdisc
Riverside pressings characteristically offer very wide dynamic and tonal range and this is no exception, with LaFaro’s bass filling the room, and Motian’s sympathetic brushwork crisp and graceful .
Hand inscribed catalogue number instead of the expected Decca or Philips machine stamped matrix. This is not normal for Riverside/Interdisc. Contracted out to a third party? Odd.
I think one of the reasons copies of Evan’s records in excellent condition command such high prices is that such a condition is rare – this music demands and repays repeated listening. Certainly this copy is well worn, but it would be a hard soul that bought this record and played it only once. The cover is a little dog-eared from constant use as a much-loved record, but I don’t have a problem with that either.
I have little sympathy for collectors who demand “virgin” copies, still sealed, to add to their vault of unplayed trophies. The dividend of ownership should be the pleasure of listening, not capital appreciation, but I guess people collect for different reasons.
(Pictures updated to modern standard October 28, 2016 )