Track Selection: “Solar”
Bill Evans (p) Scott LaFaro (b), Paul Motian (d) recorded live at the Village Vanguard on June 25, 1961,
Tune in to the communication between piano and bass and drums.Simultaneous improvisation within a melodic structure, the ultimate Unfree Jazz.
The Amazon Official Review describes it thus: “This live recording by the Bill Evans Trio marked the end of one of the most sublime instrumental combinations in jazz history. The interchange between Evans on piano, LaFaro on bass and Paul Motian on drums is balletic in its balance of emotional beauty and technical precision”
I can say this record is worshipped like few others, and for only very good musical reasons. And good as Evans future bass players were – Chuck Israels, Eddie Gomez, Marc Johnson, no-one stood up there with Scott LaFaro.
Amazingly it was recorded live, which may account for the quality of the performance, and the Sunday night dinner guests are quietly appreciative, discrete ripples of applause, no attention seeking yelps and whistles, the Trio remains unquestionably the focus of attention. The record invites you to a front table.
Look at those spindle marks!! Look no further than a sample of reviews from Amazon:
“This is an album that continues to amaze and please even after repeated hearings”… It sounds simple enough on the surface, but holds scores of wonders upon careful listening”….” Please, buy this album! And listen to it over and over. It will change your life. It did mine.”. So it goes on and on. You get the picture, if you like your records pristine ” only played a few times” this is never going to be one. A few clicks, a few pops, a little groove wear, and some scuffing surface noise because it never returned to its jacket. A beautiful laminated jacket it is too. Another time vinyl artwork scores over CD.
As far as I can tell it’s a 1st UK Riverside release, and Riverside sound sublime. Though there are CDs remastered by Orin Keepnews available, which claim to capture the original sound quality, I respectfully have to disagree. I have one Keepnews CD and side by side with the vinyl it is weak and wooden by comparison (which of course you would never know unless you were able to play them side by side) . If you can find decent vinyl this is one to grab.
Matrix indicates a Philips pressing, manufactured in Holland (670). These are a little more quiet than the British press (420) and benefit from pushing the volume up a couple of notches.
I felt fortunate enough to pick this up in a local record store at a very fair price, even if not in as excellent a condition one would like, and the cover has a tear on the back.. The last time I chased Evans on eBay the 1961 records (this one, Waltz for Debby, and Portraits in Jazz) all went stratospheric even long before auction close. One to keep on your watch list. And yes, may be an Orin Keepnews CD to attune your ear in the meantime.
In spite of Evans long-term addiction to heroin, LaFaro’s motor accident, and Paul Motian’s death just a few weeks back, a unique superlative group we will not see the like of again, whose recorded musical legacy remains with us, forever. And enough people that appreciate it.
Pictures updated June 8, 2016