Bill Evans Trio: Sunday At The Village Vanguard

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This is a 2020 Groove Replica re-release of the original 1961 album on Riverside Records – the last that Evans would make with Scott LaFaro, who passed away soon after the recording. Two of the six different tunes presented here are LaFaro originals, and his playing is heavily featured, so it seems very much his swan song.

LaFaro is much more to the fore here (in terms of the mix as well, with the bass perhaps seeming a bit loud), compared to the more evenly balanced contributions on Portrait In Jazz, one of Evans’s previous albums with the same line-up, and to my mind a better album.

Evans initially seems very much in the background here at the Vanguard, although he starts to emerge much more on Solar with his rapid octave or two-apart phrasing in both hands, and also on Alice In Wonderland, to great effect. Motian gets more of a chance to interact as part of the trio on All of You, and then we enter the world of alternate takes of most of the same tunes, with the final track of 25 seconds being something of an out-take.

The album is effectively much shorter than the official duration tells us, because nearly half of the overall tracks are alternate takes, which seems excessive – surely three versions of All Of You on the same album is too much for most listeners, however good the playing, and however different the alternate takes might be.

Discography
Gloria’s Step; My Man’s Gone Now; Solar; Alice In Wonderland; All Of You; Jade Visions; Gloria’s Step (alt); Alice In Wonderland (alt); All Of You (alt tk #1); All Of You (alt tk #2); Jade Versions (alt); A Few Final Bars… (76.31)
Evans (p); Scott LaFaro (b); Paul Motian (d). New York, 25 June 1961.
Groove Replica 77017