Track Selection: My Funny Valentine
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Bill Evans (p) Jim Hall (g) recorded at Sound Makers, NYC, April 24 and May 14, 1962 sound engineer: Bill Shwartau
A triumph for Bill Evans and Jim Hall, another exercise in telepathic communion, intertwining piano and this time acoustic guitar in away I’d not previously experienced. Recorded the year following the death of Scott Lafaro, in which Evans must have been searching for new partnerships before settling for trio format again, Chuck Israels bass, and later, Eddie Gomez. Jim Hall manages to fill the role of solo guitar melody, chordal counterpoint, percussion, and bass, all in one. It is a remarkable recording that should sit on the shelf of every Evans fan, and for some reason it wasn’t on mine. Ah, that would be because I had’t got it. Easily remedied, Ebay to the rescue.
I couldn’t understand why most copies offered on Ebay showed the cover seen right, not the eerie lady in white floating below the surface. (A friend described the floating lady almost like a “modern” cover. I think he meant that as a compliment). Others thoughts on that cover here. The original photograph in HD by fashion photographer Toni Frissell of a woman floating in the water at Weeki Wachee Spring, Florida was published in Harper’s Bazaar in December 1947.
Opening the record mailer yielded an unexpected surprise because the cover is a … gatefold!! You get both covers.
Vinyl: UAJS 15003
Stereo (also issued on United Artists UAJS 14003 mono)
Despite being a committed mono fan, I have always wanted my Bill Evans in stereo . All my UK Riverside Bill Evans are mono. With just two players intertwined like Evans and Hall, stereo has to be the way to go. And beautiful stereo it is. And the decision to go the extra mile for original vinyl in stereo fully vindicated. And the cover is a marvel.
United Artists Jazz matrix code formats are unknown to me – I have no more than one or two. But this for future reference is what you find in the run out.
The liner notes are a piece of literary fiction – a cross between Mike Hammer’s Mickey Spillane and William Borroughs cut up beat poetry. Perhaps Nat Hentoff, Ira Gitler, and Leonard Feather were busy that day. It asks to be read in a Brooklyn accent, or La-di-dah Greenwich Village, and has dated in a way the music has not.
Source: Ebay US ; Sellers Description:
Original 1960’s Pressing Stereo Record Album made in the U.S.A. by UNITED ARTISTS JAZZ (UAJS 15003)
VG++ to Strong VG++ ** Full Gloss & Great Sound on both sides – both sides play Excellent! LABELS have several light spindle trails on one side
GATEFOLD COVER CONDITION:
Strong VG++ / not far from NEAR MINT *** Thick TEXTURED GATEFOLD COVER shows only some very light wear at th very tips of each corner, a very small light crease mark very close to the tip of one of the corners only a very tiny hint of light storage wear in a few spots. there are No Seam Splits / No Writing / No Torn Spots
I had taken a couple of years rest from the hype and overgrading of some US ebay sellers, but reluctantly, I had to go to a US seller to find this record, as there didn’t seem to be any copies in Europe. No doubt someone will post in to tell me they have seen hundreds, selling for sixpence. People do that, to cheer you up. I had seen the bendy tenor United Artists Jazz label only once before, and possibly giant United Artists didn’t feel they needed a licensing arrangement outside the US. Since Evans was signed to Riverside, then Verve, I do not understand why this release appears unusually on United Artists.
The auction attracted stiff competition – seven bidders – enough to push the price up a fair bit. Sometimes, there is a sense of relief when you receive an “Outbid” notice – you have saved yourself a fistful of dollars, and are not going to go through the overseas postal charges and customs trauma followed by two weeks wait to see if your beloved purchase is “as described”. Instead, with no sense of irony, my mailbox registered an “Enjoy your purchase” notice. My first reaction, “Oh shit, now it starts”
Ten days later, the postman called. From its description, I would guess the record had not been play-graded. It certainly looked “perfect” but the vinyl had persistent crackle. Not scratched, not hissy, but it crackled, more than you would want. Last resort is to return the record, first however random crackle is usually a symptom of unwanted residue in the grooves.
Enter the Vinyl Scrubbers! Four sequential record cleaning machine cycles, one cycle with my usual alcohol-based cleaning fluid (British Audio Products – 3 parts distilled water 1 part isopropyl alcohol) , followed by three cycles with non-alcohol based cleaner which targets mould-release on new vinyl (Disco-stat). After each cycle the crackle reduced, to the point where it is now fairly inconsequential, but it was very persistent. “Factory fresh” and ” near mint” tells only half the story.
As for renewing the Special Relationship, so far, so good, but I am sure that a record from Hell (Michigan) is still just around the corner.
Don’t you just love blogging? Katharsis suggests it may be a Plastylite pressing. Mattyman pops in a reminder to check when I am back home. I snoop around Popsike while at a loose end in France, and as a result I find one auction result with the magic words, ” ear”! Ruddy Hell!!
Its all too much, thanks guys, time to open a bottle of Cotes de Rhone. Great here of course because CdR should be drunk at room temperature, which in the Med right now is 27°C. N i i i ce! Cheers!
UPDATE no.2: (31/07/12) The stereo, or at least my stereo, has no Plastylite ear in the runout. Perhaps the mono was pressed by Plastylite and the stereo pressing job went to another plant. Another thing I notice is that some sellers of these “bendy tenor” UA records downgrade to VG condition because of many clicks and pops. That is where mine started from but around 80% of this have been eliminated by intensive “professional” cleaning. My surmise is the factory that pressed them operated poor environmental cleanliness practices. No other explanation.