Bill Evans Trio '64  Brought A Light Touch to a Dark Time

The gentle, introspective Bill Evans Trio of The Village Vanguard sessions that produced Sunday At the Village Vanguard and Waltz For Debby yielded two years later to the somewhat more rhythmically assertive trio heard on this December 18th, 1963 Webster Hall recording released early in 1964.

The late bassist Scott LaFaro’s friend Gary Peacock replaced him in the trio with Paul Motian continuing on drums. Though no less cerebral and harmonically tuned in than was LaFaro, Peacock brought to the group a faster, more aggressive rhythmic style punctuated with nimble staccato runs. More tapping of the toes and less tugging at the heart.

The set of tuneful standards includes some well-known material including “Dancing in the Dark” and “A Sleeping Bee” (which became part of Evans’ repertoire), the oft covered “Everything Happens To Me”, as well as two unusual choices “Santa Claus is Coming To Town” and “Little Lulu”—a tune created for the comic book character’s 1940’s era theatrical short films. The group extracts from these novelty songs depth and character, discarding the simple surface sentiments.

Recorded by Bob Simpson in New York’s Webster Hall, it would be fair to think of this as an RCA “Living Stereo” production released on Verve (Simpson also recorded Belafonte at Carnegie Hall among many other classic RCAs). The relatively closely-miked sound is delicate throughout. Simpson was a recording master who knew how to capture a piano, which here floats effortlessly and three-dimensionally slightly right of center stage with Peacock in the left channel and Motion in the right, neither sounding isolated but rather as part of an organic whole.

The relatively short program approximately 15 minutes to a side allowed mastering engineer Ryan K. Smith to put all of what’s on the tape into the grooves without going anywhere close to the label.

The QRP pressing was dead silent and the Stoughton laminated Tip-on jacket is as pleasing to look at as it is satisfying to the touch. This reissue wins compared to an oft-played, finely produced Japanese Polydor reissue (23MJ 3033), though that one is also very good.

This reissue is as good as any to explain in sound what AAA vinyl is all about, plus of course the performance will every play elevate your mood and get your toes tapping. How these guys brought that lighthearted a mood to a session recorded a month after the Kennedy assassination remains difficult to understand, but it was just what the jazz record buying public needed.

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jazz's picture

it also beats my beloved original - which I still love.

Ron P's picture

Great album. I use it as a reference for new cartridge, cables or components. Hey--the three C's!

Anton D's picture

Michael: they need to give you a link so they know where the purchase came from!

firedog's picture

In Qobuz there's a Redbook version with a bunch of alternate takes added as a bonus. Will be interesting for some.
Also sounds good.

Toptip's picture

The puano is on the left, not the right.

shawnwes's picture

As Michael stated the piano is slightly right of centre.

shawnwes's picture

If not your cables are swapped.

Toptip's picture

Yes, I have the bass on the left, drums on the right…but I still hear the piano left of center?

jazz's picture

for whatever reason, probably placement of speakers or room stuff. Try setting your left speaker back a bit, maybe this corrects a few other things, too.

AnalogJ's picture

While an excellent album, those who are sensitive to tape warble will likely hear some on Evans' piano here. A few have already reported it. It is a bit intrusive, but doesn't get in the way completely of enjoying this album.

jazz's picture

this is a good reason to also have an original pressing or even an early japanese on hand, too. I really wonder why this kind of problem started so suddenly during the last years and was hardly present before.

Michael Fremer's picture
Is a fetish. It's on originals, reissues and easily audible if that's what you wish to focus and obsess on.
shawnwes's picture

Some believe it slipped by or was ignored by the engineer involved with the remaster believing that the original recording was perfect.

jazz's picture

and I’m really not one of those, searching it on any new record I buy, that’s why I said “in extreme cases”. I just noticed it on a few newer reissues where it wasn’t present on older ones. This here and there happens when comparing with really old Japanese ones from the 80s (inferior otherwise) or originals, but sometimes also when comparing with reissues from the ‘00 years.

Minor warble doesn’t bother.

shawnwes's picture

Every one of this Verve Series that I have picked up has been flawless.

Trevor_Bartram's picture

Would the Plangent process fix the tape warble on this recording for any future digital releases?

Dual's picture

As a former musician and audio engineer, with a Steinway M in my living room, I'm extremely sensitive to pitch variations in piano recordings and so this release took me aback. It was kind of a relief to read here that it's an issue in the master and not this particular release.