Bill Evans, Stan Getz: A Discovery In 1973 (1964) Verve

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)

.  .  .

Artists

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.

Music

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.

Collector’s Corner

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.

 

 

11 thoughts on “Bill Evans, Stan Getz: A Discovery In 1973 (1964) Verve

  1. This album was recently released as part of the Vital Vinyl series. Original album artwork.
    No mention of Stereo on the sleeve and the labels read Long Playing.
    I just listened through. All of side one is in mono, side two is stereo.
    The notes list different bass players fly side one/two. Different sessions, perhaps.
    Dan

  2. I checked how the mono/stereo issue was handled on the version uploaded to YouTube and found the side 1 tracks are all mono and the side 2 tracks are all stereo!

  3. Thanks for featuring this underrated album! I’m pretty sure I’m the Discogs user that posted the comments referenced above regarding mono & stereo on this one. I had the Japanese MV 2087 pressing and can confirm that all the tracks on this one are mono aside from B2 Melinda. Does your copy (23MJ 3036) play this track in mono or stereo? I can also confirm the original US is completely mono, even though it has the V6 stereo catalog number prefix (the “6” indicating stereo) and one label variant even having STEREO on the label.

    MV 2087 also omits the incomplete take of Dark Eyes found at the end of side 2 on the US pressing. Does the 23MJ 3036 have this?

    Nice detective work regarding availability of studio at Englewood Cliffs during the dates this was recorded. Would love to have heard RVG’s mastering of this.

    • Looking more carefully at your photos I see 23MJ 3036 was made from the same metalwork as MV 2087 so it will have Melinda in stereo and lack the snippet of Dark Eyes at the end of side 2.

      • Same metal? Meaning stampers found their way to Japan rather than copy tape? That must be a first.

        Though Creed Taylor may have form for this. A friend picked up an Italian Impulse copy with RVG stamps – original derived metal overseas pressing.

        Nothing that looks like an extra track.

        • Sorry if I wasn’t clear, in your picture of the labels I see the stamped matrix from the earlier Japan release (MV 2087) on your copy of the later Japan release (23MJ 3036).

        • Just to say plenty of Uk issues have US metalwork rather than copytape provenance, like the majority of my 50s /60s Esquires for example.

          • We were blessed indeed with Esquire, I have I think around sixty, but they folded around 1961. The succesor to Esquire, Transatlantic, went the tape route. Sadly, Blue Note had no overseas distribution agreements like those of Prestige, or we might have had original Van Gelder metal here too.

            I’ve not seen US metal on UK releases on the other main labels: Impulse remastered by EMI/HMV, Riverside remastered by Decca and Philips, Columbia remastered by CBS. I wish they had, but back then I guess no-one knew. I have a lot of first UK issues, and where I have finally got the US original, the US is more lively, fresher, better timing, wins hands down. I guess its not just the tape generation drop, there is all the other equipment differences and engineering judgements.

  4. Interesting, never heard about Bill not liking Van Gelder’s recording techniques. I know that Mingus was vocal about that, but not Bill. And Van Gelder either recorded or mastered several of Bill’s recordings during the 60’s (Oliver Nelson’s “Blues And The Abstract Truth”, “Trio ’65”, “Bill Evans Trio with Symphony Orchestra”, “Intermodulation”, “A Simple Matter Of Conviction”) and even into the 70’s (he mastered “Montreux 2”). If Bill had a problem with RVG’s sound, he certainly didn’t speak up about it.

    • Also, I have the US pressing of this album. Mine was pressed on styrene, and is quite noisy as a result. Over in the states in the early to mid 70’s we had the oil crisis, so vinyl plants were cutting back, using either recycled vinyl, styrene, or super thin vinyl.

      That aside, this isn’t one of my favorite Evans recordings, and from various articles I’ve read, it wasn’t one of Bill’s either. Creed Taylor wanted to put Bill and Stan together to try some more “commercial” recordings, and this was the result. Apparently, Neither Bill, Stan, or Creed Taylor liked the results, and they were shelved.

      I will say, however, that this album, despite not being a gold standard, was head and shoulders above Bill’s MGM album (which predates these sessions by about a year) “Theme from the V.I.P.’s And Other Great Songs” (which, ironically, was produced by Creed Taylor). Bill is mostly buried by the muzak-sounding orchestra and occasional choir singers on this one.

      Another note on the Van Gelder thing: I think the reason Rudy didn’t engineer and/or master ALL of Bill’s work on Verve might have been down to his schedule recording for other labels (Blue Note, mainly). It probably wasn’t up to Bill who recorded him at any given time. If Rudy was available, he’d get Rudy. If not, he’d get whoever was on hand. And I forget one other recording Rudy did of Bill’s on Verve: “Empathy”, with Shelly Manne and Monty Budwig.

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