2008 digitally remastered two CD set featuring a superb performance by the last edition of the Bill Evans Trio. Less than a year before his death, Bill Evans traveled to Madrid, Spain, to play three nights at a small venue called the Balboa Jazz Club. One of those magic nights was recorded and appears here in its entirety. The music from the December 12, 1979 Balboa concert was privately recorded and the sound quality leaves much to be desired. However, the music has been reprocessed and sounds better here than on any previous release.
With the passage of time, Bill Evans has become an entire school unto himself for pianists and a singular mood unto himself for listeners. There is no more influential jazz-oriented pianist only McCoy Tyner exerts nearly as much pull among younger players and journeymen and Evans has left his mark on such noted players as Herbie Hancock, Keith Jarrett, Chick Corea, Brad Mehldau. Borrowing heavily from the impressionism of Debussy and Ravel, Evans brought a new, introverted, relaxed, lyrical, European classical sensibility into jazz and that seems to have attracted a lot of young conservatory-trained pianists who follow his chord voicings to the letter in clubs and on stages everywhere.
The recordings on this CD precede the same trio's live performances at the Village Vanguard in 1961 by more than a year. Incomplete versions of these tracks have been previously issued on LP but appear here on CD in their entirety.
This release presents, in chronological order, all surviving complete performances from the legendary 1961 Village Vanguard sets by the Bill Evans Trio. Two classic albums were culled from these sets: Sunday at the Village Vanguard (Riverside RLP976) and Waltz for Debby (Riverside RLP999). It would be the last recording by this formation of the group, with Scott LaFaro on bass, and Paul Motian on drums, as LaFaro died ten days later in a car crash, on July 6, 1961, at the age of 25. Evans, who loved LaFaro’s playing, would take a long hiatus before forming a new trio.
Mann, who has changed his style numerous times throughout his long career, is heard exclusively in a straight-ahead and bop context on this pair of studio dates. Evans, who studied flute through his college years, rarely recorded with a flutist (Jeremy Steig joined him on a later record for Verve), though he was fond of the instrument; the capable Chuck Israels on bass and drummer Paul Motian round out the trio.
Two magnificent but neglected albums rolled into one, and still coming up fresh as daisies. Chris May, AllAboutJazz.com