Track Selection: Waltz for Debby
Bill Evans (p) Scott LaFaro (b) Paul Motian (d) Live recording at the “Village Vanguard”, NYC, matinee and soiree, June 25, 1961. (Like the French? Enchanté It’s so charming)
It is a live performance. You can faintly hear the chink of cutlery, the distant babble of conversations. It is not too intrusive, though had I been there I would probably have asked the chef if I could borrow his meat cleaver. Table Three, Gentlemen, are you aware you are in the presence of genius? And that you are talking over it? How do I say this politely (Brings cleaver down in one blow, where it embeds quivering in the table top). Capisce?
The benefit of live performance of course is the nervous energy that flows between the players and the audience, igniting play in a way a recording studio setting rarely does. Scott Lafaro is staggering, a virtual bass-piano fusion of minds and sounds.
Two separate albums were created from the matinee and soiree sessions at the Village Vanguard – RLP 399 Waltz for Debby and RLP 376 Sunday at the Village Vanguard. A remarkable moment in the history of jazz was created that day. And shortly after, Scot Lafaro was no more.
Vinyl: RLP 399 Riverside, 1961 first pressing UK
Nice, and mono so there is none of the hi-fi showroom demonstration of extreme positioning. Sounds just right. For a live recording, very acceptable.
The cover is a deep glossy laminate, slight dimples, like all the best finishes from the Fifties and early Sixties, the like of which they no longer seem able to make.
Yes!! There is a God! Four times I have chased this record and lost to a high roller. Fair realistic bids by my estimate, but always someone else threw money at it and won. You may have seen my eBay Lowlights section on this record. https://londonjazzcollector.wordpress.com/ebay-lowlights/ Except this time…
Three weeks after losing the bid on this British pressing in “Excellent” condition – what should turn up in my email but my first “Second Chance Offer” from eBay. Seems the winning bidder failed to complete, so the seller opened it up to the second place bid – me.
My initial reaction was suspicion. Something must be wrong with it – the first buyer must have sent it back. I checked – no negative feedback. The price was right at my personal maximum. Cold light of day, should I go for it? After sleeping on it I decided to take up the 2nd Chance – which comes to you as a “Buy it Now” screen.. At the end of the day I figured it was no different from having won it first time around. Paypal, job done, sit and wait.
Next morning the doorbell awoke me from my sleep, quarter to eight. I had to open the door in my dressing gown. It was like an angel in a hi-visibility jacket from The Lord’s Parcel Force, sent down to Earth to deliver my reward. A deep voice boomed:“You have won a reprieve, Andrew, you get a Second Chance, use it wisely” Jimmy Stewart I think it was, or may be Carry Grant. I am convinced the post man had a beatific smile. “Sign Here..” my soul signed for, recorded Delivery.
Unpacking the parcel was nerve-racking. And then suddenly there it was. Perfect, beautiful condition, mint,, gorgeous glossy laminate, holding it in your hands, enough to bring you to tears. Just about the most beautiful cover in my whole collection.
And what of the record? Gingerly, I tilted it to the light. Flawless. Hardly played. Clean almost unblemished spindle holes, not a scuff or scratch in sight. The last copy I saw at a store would describe as “surface noise, with a touch of piano, though mostly the noise plays through.” This is a lovely copy, just the very occasional natural vinyl odd sound – only the Japanese do completely silent vinyl.
Across the pond this record fetches three to four times what I paid, in this condition. And its all mine. For once, the good guys get to win, if I include myself in that company.
Postscript: August 4, 2016
You wait years for a decent copy of a record, then two come along at once. But better, this one is the stereo! (I will get around to adding a stereo rip for comparison, but that is not for today)
Dutch Stereo pressing.
Dutch stereo pressing, and what a pressing – dim the lights, front row seat Village Vanguard, Bill Evans Trio at arms length in your living room, Bill’s piano in front of the fireplace, Scott to one side by the indoor palm, Paul Motian squeezed in the corner next to your hi-fi. Tinkling glasses,the low hub-bub of conversation, you are there, sublime. Hey sweetie, you signal the cocktail waitress at the bar, fix me a drink will ya? Dry Martini. Your wife appears with beehive hairdo and shift dress, chewing gum. Fetch your own drinks, she tells you. It’s the servants day off.
Vinyl: RLP 8399
Considering it is exactly the same music, note the enormous difference in the size of the runout compared with the UK mono, indicating a much more densely packed grooved area, and therefore different mastering lathe settings.
1961 it must have been common to record to twin-track, hence the UK mono must be a fold down, and the Dutch stereo more authentically what was recorded. Perhaps.
Back cover includes a picture of Bill omitted from the UK mono press.
The stereo copy was a complete fluke. I walked into a West London store I visit occasionaly, and filed away in the “piano” section was sitting this beauty, whispering “take me, take me now”
So I took it.