Bill Evans Trio – Moon Beams {Riverside} “Analogue Productions”


Review by Review by Thom Jurek (allmusic.com)

Moonbeams was the first recording Bill Evans made after the death of his musical right arm, bassist Scott LaFaro. Indeed, in LaFaro, Evans found a counterpart rather than a sideman, and the music they made together over four albums showed it. Bassist Chuck Israels from Cecil Taylor and Bud Powell’s bands took his place in the band with Evans and drummer Paul Motian and Evans recorded the only possible response to the loss of LaFaro — an album of ballads. The irony on this recording is that, despite material that was so natural for Evans to play, particularly with his trademark impressionistic sound collage style, is that other than as a sideman almost ten years before, he has never been more assertive than on Moonbeams. It is as if, with the death of LaFaro, Evans’ safety net was gone and he had to lead the trio alone. And he does first and foremost by abandoning the impressionism in favor of a more rhythmic and muscular approach to harmony. The set opens with an Evans original, “RE: Person I Knew,” a modal study that looks back to his days he spent with Miles Davis. There is perhaps the signature jazz rendition of “Stairway to the Stars,” with its loping yet halting melody line and solo that is heightened by Motian’s gorgeous brush accents in the bridge section. Other selections are so well paced and sequenced the record feels like a dream, with the lovely stuttering arpeggios that fall in “If You Could See Me Now,” and the cascading interplay between Evan’s chords and Israel’s punctuation in “It Might As Well Be Spring,” a tune Evans played for the rest of his life. The set concludes with a waltz in “Very Early,” that is played at that proper tempo with great taste and delicate elegance throughout, there is no temptation by the rhythm section to charge it up or to elongate the harmonic architecture by means of juggling intervals. Moonbeams was a startling return to the recording sphere and a major advancement in his development as a leader.

Tracks:
01 – Re: Person I Knew
02 – Polka Dots and Moonbeams
03 – I Fall in Love Too Easily
04 – Stairway to the Stars
05 – If You Could See Me Now
06 – It Might As Well Be Spring
07 – In Love in Vain
08 – Very Early

Personnel:
Bill Evans – piano
Chuck Israels – bass
Paul Motian – drums

Recorded in New York; June 2, 1962 (selections #2-4, 6, 7);
May 29, 1962 (#1, 8); May 17, 1962 (#5)

Quality: eac, flac, cue, log, artwork

Bill Evans Trio – Portrait in Jazz {Riverside}[DCC]


Review by Scott Yanow (allmusic.com)

The first of two studio albums by the Bill Evans-Scott LaFaro-Paul Motian trio (both of which preceded their famous engagement at the Village Vanguard), this Portrait in Jazz reissue contains some wondrous interplay, particularly between pianist Evans and bassist LaFaro, on the two versions of “Autumn Leaves.” Other than introducing Evans’ “Peri’s Scope,” the music is comprised of standards, but the influential interpretations were far from routine or predictable at the time. LaFaro and Motian were nearly equal partners with the pianist in the ensembles and their versions of such tunes as “Come Rain or Come Shine,” “When I Fall in Love,” and “Someday My Prince Will Come” (which preceded Miles Davis’ famous recording by a couple years) are full of subtle and surprising creativity. A gem.

Tracks:
01 – Come Rain or Come Shine
02 – Autumn Leaves
03 – Witchcraft
04 – When I Fall in Love
05 – Peri’s Scope
06 – What is this Thing Called Love?
07 – Spring is Here
08 – Someday My Prince will Come
09 – Blue in Green
10 – Autumn Leaves (alternate – monarual LP version)

Personnel:
Bill Evans – piano
Scott LaFaro – bass
Paul Motian – drums

Recorded at Plaza Sound Studios, Rockefeller Center, NY, on December 28, 1959

Quality: eac, flac, cue, log, artwork

Bill Evans – Trio ’64 {Verve} “Master Edition”


Review by Lindsay Planer (allmusic.com)

Joining Bill Evans (piano) on Trio ’64 — his initial first three-piece recording for Verve — is the compact rhythm section of Gary Peacock (bass) and Paul Motian (drums). The effort spotlights their communal and intuitive musical discourse, hinging on an uncanny ability of the musicians to simultaneously hear and respond. All the more interesting, Evans had not interacted in this setting before, having most recently worked with Chuck Israels (bass) and Larry Bunker (drums). The personable opener, “Little Lulu,” features the aggregate melodically molding individual and distinct sonic characteristics. Evans’ nimble and emphatic syncopation is not only ably supported, but framed by Peacock’s expressive runs and Motian’s acute sense of timing. “A Sleeping Bee” is one of the collection’s most endearing selections as the groove playfully scintillates surrounding some hauntingly poignant chord changes. Evans bandies back and forth with Peacock, the latter likewise providing a stellar solo. “Always” captures a similar effervescence as the instrumentalists ebb and flow in synchronicity. Since the December 18 session was held the week before Christmas 1963, they fittingly tote out “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town,” creating a minor masterpiece of post-bop from what could easily have started as a spontaneous seasonal suggestion. Noël Coward’s “I’ll See You Again” bears a brisk waltz persona, enabling the unit to fluently weave its offerings without obstructing the otherwise affective tune. Concluding Trio ’64 is Rodgers & Hart’s standard “Everything Happens to Me,” with an unhurried tempo lingering just long enough to embrace the familiar refrain. Evans sparkles, gliding around Peacock’s full-bodied basslines and Motian’s solid yet restrained beat.

Tracks:
01 – Little Lulu
02 – A Sleepin’ Bee
03 – Always
04 – Santa Claus is Coming to Town
05 – I’ll See You Again
06 – For Heaven’s Sake
07 – Dancing in the Dark
08 – Everything Happens to Me
09 – Little Lulu (bonus track #1)
10 – Little Lulu (bonus track #2)
11 – Always (bonus track)
12 – I’ll See You Again (bonus track)
13 – My Heart Stood Still (bonus track){unused title}
14 – Always (bonus){incomplete selection}
15 – I’ll See You Again (bonus){incomplete selection}
16 – My Heart Stood Still (bonus){incomplete selection}[false starts]

Personnel:
Bill Evans – piano
Gary Peacock – bass
Paul Motian – drums

Recorded December, 1963

Quality: eac, flac, cue, log, artwork

Bill Evans Trio – Waltz for Debby {Riverside} “Analogue Productions”


Review by Thom Jurek (allmusic.com)

Recorded at the Village Vanguard in 1961, shortly before Scott LaFaro’s death, Waltz for Debby is the second album issued from that historic session, and the final one from that legendary trio that also contained drummer Paul Motian. While the Sunday at the Village Vanguard album focused on material where LaFaro soloed prominently, this is far more a portrait of the trio on those dates. Evans chose the material here, and, possibly, in some unconscious way, revealed on these sessions — and the two following LaFaro’s death (Moonbeams and How My Heart Sings!) — a different side of his musical personality that had never been displayed on his earlier solo recordings or during his tenures with Miles Davis and George Russell: Evans was an intensely romantic player, flagrantly emotional, and that is revealed here in spades on tunes such as “My Foolish Heart” and “Detour Ahead.” There is a kind of impressionistic construction to his harmonic architecture that plays off the middle registers and goes deeper into its sonances in order to set into motion numerous melodic fragments simultaneously. The rhythmic intensity that he displayed as a sideman is evident here in “Milestones,” with its muscular shifting time signature and those large, flatted ninths with the right hand. The trio’s most impressive interplay is in “My Romance,” after Evans’ opening moments introducing the changes. Here Motian’s brushwork is delicate, flighty and elegant, and LaFaro controls the dynamic of the tune with his light as a feather pizzicato work and makes Evans’ deeply emotional statements swing effortlessly. Of the many recordings Evans issued, the two Vanguard dates and Explorations are the ultimate expressions of his legendary trio.

Tracks:
01 – My Foolish Heart
02 – Waltz for Debby
03 – Detour Ahead
04 – My Romance
05 – Some Other Time
06 – Milestones

Personnel:
Bill Evans – piano
Scott LaFaro – bass
Paul Motian – drums

Recorded live at the Village Vanguard, New York City; on June 25, 1961

Quality: eac, flac, cue, log, artwork