Bill Evans: The Village Vanguard Sessions

Vinyl reissue of the 1961 concerts that set new horizons for piano trio jazz and laid a template that influenced a generation


The music on these two LPs was originally released separately on two Riverside albums, namely Waltz For Debby (1962) and Sunday At The Village Vanguard (1961) and in this double format on Milestone in 1973.

Subsequently, these 1961 sessions have attained legendary status and quite rightly so. For many, this trio represented a true advance in what the jazz public might expect from this limited instrumentation and the example would come to fruition in other equally capable hands.

The juxtaposition of Evans’ harmonic awareness, his swing and his sense of dynamics with LaFaro’s outstandingly unique technique (matching his leader move for move) and Motian’s refusal to play the obvious, marked them as a group stretching the boundaries. They commanded respect even from those who thought the Oscar Peterson trio represented the apex of the piano trio.

The promising prospects of this line-up came to a shattering end when LaFaro died in car crash 10 days after this date. As the Penguin Guide To Jazz observes, it’s “music which continues to provoke marvel and endless study”. That leaves no more to be said.

LP1: My Foolish Heart; My Romance; Some Other Time; Alice In Wonderland (alt); Solar; Gloria’s Step; My Man’s Gone Now (45.36)
LP2: All Of You; Alice In Wonderland; I Loves You Porgy; Milestones; Detour Ahead; Waltz For Debby; Jade Visions (47.57)

Evans (p); Scott LaFaro (b); Paul Motian (d). New York, 25 June 1961.
WaxTime 772297