Quiz answers declared here: Bill Evans, Stan Getz, Elvin Jones, Ron Carter. Well done, those who got it. Next time, I will remember to anonymise the rip title, and remember what my mum taught me: “cheats never prosper”. (Wrong again, mum)
Tie breaker: A Japanese pressing.
Selection: Funkallero (Evans)
. . .
Bill Evans, piano; Stan Getz, tenor saxophone; Ron Carter. bass (Side 1) Richard Davis (Side 2) ; Elvin Jones, drums. Recorded NYC, May 5, 6, 1964, engineer Angel Balestier (remix), Dennis Sands (mastering), Eric Miller (supervisor, remix and mastering), produced by Creed Taylor.
Interestingly, this is the first Stan Getz title I have posted, so you may conclude LJC is not a big fan of Mr Getz, though I am sure he has many. However the Evans name had me pay attention, and I think Getz’s playing went up a level as a result – he plays here with a little more fire than I expected. And Evans is a bit more funky than his signature pained lyricism.
This session was recorded soon after Evans moved from Riverside to Verve, following his Verve debut album Trio 64, with Gary Peacock on bass, Paul Motian drums – a line-up that would shortly change to Chuck Israels, bass, and Larry Bunker, drums. Evans was determinedly at home in the trio format
By 1964 Getz had was knee-deep in Samba and Bossa Nova titles for Verve, most often with guitarists, like Chalie Byrd, Luiz Bonfa, Laurindo Almeida and João Gilberto. The bossa nova craze showed no sign of letting up... Bartender, Uma caipirinha, por favor!
Creed Taylor put his two Verve artists together in a change of direction for both, in a songbook mainly of standards, with a well-seasoned rhythm section in Ron Carter/Richard Davis and meteor-storm navigator Elvin Jones. Perhaps Taylor concluded the result would please neither Getz’s Bossa fans, nor Evans trio fans, and decided to leave the experiment on the shelf. With the passage of time, audiences moved on, and the recording could be better appreciated on its own merits, which are many.
The following year,1974, Getz joined the Bill Evans Trio on the concert stage in Holland and Belgium, featuring a number of the songs here, The recording was later aquired and released on CD by Milestone as “But Beatifull”, but not until 1996, after Bill and Stan had both left the stage, permanently. How sad that music is ephemeral, but happy that vinyl rendered it immortal.
Vinyl: J23MJ 3036 (1981 Japan) reissue of V6 8333 (1973 US)
Jazz Time Now! series, manufactured by Polydor K K. Missing from my copy, the obi and insert.
Titled “A Discovery In 1973” because the earlier deferred release was titled “Previously Unreleased Recordings”. After they had been released, albeit ten years later, I guess they could no longer be described as “previously unreleased”, hence the alternative title. It may be one of the earliest examples of the now bursting industry of “lost and found” recordings.
This recording has a long and intriguing reissue history – Discogs lists 29 entries, including LP, CD, cassette, CD, SACD and now DSD, whatever that is. Notablly there seems to be some confusion as to whether it is a mono or stereo recording, and where it was recorded, and by whom. A little detective work is in order, as the credits on the liner notes omit certain essentials.
Original US Release (mono promo) – easy call, radio station copies were usually mono broadcast.
First commercial release: “Stereo” according to the labels but actually plays mono” says the Discogs uploader.
It seems odd that a 1964 recording would be issued only in mono. Most engineers in 1964 were recording in multi-track. to support both mono and stereo issues. By 1973, when the original recording was mastered, home listening record players were generally stereo, as were most record releases.
1974 Japan release: Discogs uploader declares “track B2 Melinda plays in stereo, all other tracks play in mono”. What is going on here – mono or stereo?
In the late ’80s a CD edition added five previously unissued tracks from the same recording session, including three alternate takes: That Verve reissue credits Van Gelder as the recording engineer, possibly the first acknowledgement.
The SACD release of 2011 by Universal claims to be stereo, and more importantly, states it was recorded at “Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey”. Universal have no reason to make it up, they own the tapes, that confirms the recording engineer was Van Gelder. The decision not to release the recording would fit with the absence of a Van Gelder master. But why did the Verve 1973 issue omit the original recording engineer and studio?
Creed Taylor had a solid working relationship with Van Gelder. The location of recording is credited only as “NYC.”, no mention of Englewood Cliffs. Why so shy? I read somewhere (in a biography) that Bill Evans refused to be recorded by RVG because he hated the piano sound Van Gelder created. Presumably he was recorded by Van Gelder at some point in order to arrive at that opinion. Was this the session that triggered him?
Bill Evans spent his life hearing what a piano sounds like sitting at the piano stool. Van Gelder’s trademark technique was close-miking instruments and getting that sound on to vinyl, a different enterprise. Opinions differ whether the piano should be recorded with the mike at a distance, to capture a listener viewpoint, or miked close to the open cabinet to capture cabinet resonance, attack and decay. Maybe Bill had a different expectation of how a piano should sound, compared with Van Gelder’s. Personally I never had any issue with RVG piano recording. I know I’m partisan, but Van Gelder did no wrong. Except very occasionally the dials ran too hot.
The Van Gelder angle would require there to be studio time available at Englewood Cliffs on the date of the recording, May 5th – 6th, 1964. A quick look at the Blue Note Session index for 1964 indicates nothing recorded from April 30 until May 7th, 1964. It looks plausible studio time was available at Englewood Cliffs on Tuesday 5th and Wednesday May 6.
I wonder if Van Gelder was airbrushed out of this story in 1973 in order to placate Evans and finally get the recording released? Just speculation. It certainly explains the very good quality of the recording, Van Gelder at the dials.
But none of it explains the anachronism of the vinyl’s mono format. Another bloody mystery.