Phil Woods (clarinet) Spencer Sinatra (alto saxophone, flute) Julian Barber, Allan Goldberg (viola) Aaron Juvelier, Joseph Tekula (cello) Gary McFarland (vibraphone, arranger, conductor) Bill Evans (piano) Jim Hall (guitar) Richard Davis (bass) Ed Shaughnessy (drums) recorded Webster Hall, NYC, December 18, 1962 – January 24, 1963
Bill Evans at the tail-end of his momentous early ’60s triumphs. The Village Vanguard sessions a distant memory 18 months previously, Scott LaFaro is gone, the start of 1963 finds Evan recording solo sessions for Verve, film medleys with Claus Ogerman’s large orchestra, some West Coast recording then off touring and recording in Europe. Perhaps looking for but not finding a new direction.
This session reunites Evans with Jim Hall, Bill landing on his feet, fitting in swinging with the refinement you might expect of a giant – in slightly reduced circumstances. Phil Woods, Richard Davis, a galaxy of unlikely top calibre names under the unlikely banner of Gary McFarland. Recorded in the run-up to Christmas, A tribute I think to the persuasive powers of Verve’s producer Creed Taylor. McFarland is quite listenable because he is not obviously Milt Jackson, and not quite Bobby Hutcherson. More important, he has around him a galaxy of stars.
Vinyl: Verve V/V6 8518 The Gary McFarland Orchestra UK VLP 9042
1st release (1963) mono, EMI pressing 157gm vinyl
Never mind arguing about Music Matters reissues, this is one of those records never before seen, which I came across sitting in the rack of a central London record store, and asked: “what the heck is this?” Bill Evans? Phil Woods? Gary McFarland the vibes player? What are all these people doing on an EMI mono UK press, produced by founder of Impulse, Creed Taylor, who moved to head Verve?
The right analogy for this kind of record collecting is “beachcomber” (a near relative of crate-digger) You stroll along the beach and find what kind of debris the sea brought in today. Sometimes its good sometimes not, but it is often interesting. I share the finding with you.