Bill Evans: Tales – Live In Copenhagen (1964)

Previously unissued 1960s Evans trio performances in Denmark feature Chuck Israels, Larry Bunker, Eddie Gomez and Marty Morell


These are previously unissued recordings by the Bill Evans Trio during its first European tour in 1964. Discovered and assembled by the indefatigable “Jazz Detective” Zev Feldman, they are valuable additions to Bill’s already impressive discography. They are also a sequel to Elemental Music’s collection Treasures, a two-CD set of Evans’ 1965-69 trio, solo and orchestral performances recorded in Denmark.

Tales contains six tracks recorded in a studio and five captured in front of an audience. A reconstituted trio featured Chuck Israels, hired to replace Scott LaFaro following his death in a car crash in 1961, and Larry Bunker, who succeeded Paul Motian. They had only recently joined Evans, but had already performed most of the tunes on this album. On the 10 tracks of Tales they work in perfect rapport and creative anticipation with the titular leader.

In his introduction to the album, Feldman notes that these performances should be welcomed by devotees, but also those discovering Evans for the first time. Interviewed by Feldman, Chuck Israels remembered that he was delighted to be part of Bill’s trio particularly because of the way he planned the music and set it up so that “you could fit yourself in with personal expression and freedom to find nuances and details that occurred to you”.

There is little (if anything) to choose between the studio and “live” titles, but mention can be made of a lilting Waltz For Debby, the two sparkling versions of How My Heart Sings, and I Didn’t Know What Time It Was – the only time it appears in the Evans discography. ’Round Midnight, the bonus and longest track (7.06) was recorded five years after the other titles, but was not included on the Treasures album. Eddie Gomez and Marty Morrell replace Israels and Bunker. Both deliver cogent solos and sensitive accompaniments, while Evans gently explores its haunting melody to the enthusiastic appreciation of his audience.

Well-presented, in surprisingly good sound, with striking photographs of the principals and appreciations by Feldman, Marc Meyers, Chuck Israels and Larry Bunker’s widow Brandyn, Tales is obviously a labour of love. It can also be savoured as prime vintage Bill Evans.

(1) Waltz For Debby; My Foolish Heart; How My Heart Sings; Sweet And Lovely; I Didn’t Know What Time It Was; Five [Theme]; My Foolish Heart #2; How My Heart Sings #2; Sweet And Lovely #2; Five [Theme] #2; (2) bonus track: ’Round Midnight (51.42)
(1) Evans (p); Chuck Israels (b); Larry Bunker (d). Copenhagen, 10 August 1964; Copenhagen, 25 August 1964.
(2) Evans; Eddie Gomez (b); Marty Morell (d). Stakladen, Aarhus, Denmark, 21 November 1969.
Elemental Music 5990445