On June 25th, 1961, Bill Evans and his trio made jazz history over the course of five sets at the Village Vanguard. Selections from those performances were released on two full-length LPs, WALTZ FOR DEBBY and Sunday AT THE VILLAGE VANGUARD, both of which went on to become landmark jazz albums from the era. The three-disc COMPLETE VILLAGE VANGUARD RECORDINGS provides a valuable service by presenting all five sets in their complete and original sequence, with crisp remastered sound, a previously unissued take (Scott LaFaro's "Gloria's Step"), and snippets of on-stage patter.
That's "Wild" Bill Davison, one of the mightiest trumpeters and most colorful personalities in all of Dixieland! These are 63 of his best 1943-52 tracks, and that means a lot with guitarist Eddie Condon: At the Jazz Band Ball; That's a Plenty; Baby, Won't You Please Come Home; Panama; Original Dixieland One Step; Riverboat Shuffle; Clarinet Marmalade; Squeeze Me; Fidgety Feet; Memphis Blues, and more.
A magnificent follow up to the Undercurrent album from the team of Bill Evans and Jim Hall – and like that one, a set that features amazing interplay between piano and guitar! Hall's guitar has never sounded better – and in the airy company of Evans, it takes on many of the same qualities as on his famous late 50s recordings in the Jimmy Guiffre trio. Bill's work is great too – almost more tonally focused than before, with perfectly chosen notes that resonate beautifully in this very spare space. Titles include "Jazz Samba", "All Across The City", "Angel Face", and "Turn Out The Stars".
Conventional wisdom, which in this case may be right, holds that Bill Evans' storied career peaked on June 25, 1961, a date that yielded two live records, Sunday at the Village Vanguard and Waltz for Debby, the final two documents of Evans' first, and best, trio, with bassist Scott LaFaro and drummer Paul Motian. In the two years he'd been playing with Evans, LaFaro had opened up new possibilities for the jazz bass, playing with a harmonically oblique, melodically flexible style that was, at the time, unprecedented. Ten days after this record was made he died, just 25 years old.
This special set of studio recordings, the first ones to be issued since 2004, gathers up fifteen outtakes from eight different sessions, including two songs from as far back as March 1987 (before the actual formation of the Rhythm Kings). These previously overlooked and unheard gems have been newly mixed for this album by Bill Wyman and Terry Taylor. The booklet contains all the musician credits. It's a very eclectic selection of songs, from Midnight Oil to Canned Heat to Dan Hicks, via classics by Willie Dixon, Slim Harpo, Jimmie Rodgers, Louis Jordan and Don Covay, and some originals - there's a solo song by Georgie Fame, "Skiing Blues", and "Jazz Walk", a Wyman/Fame co-write. Bill Wyman put together his ten-piece Rhythm Kings ensemble after leaving the Rolling Stones in 1992. The band has a core rhythm section, but features a revolving combination of all-star guest front men and women.
A massive set - 67 string quartets on 21 discs in a budget-priced, shelf-friendly, compact box. So the obvious question is: do you need it? The equally obvious answer is a resounding "yes" if you love these endlessly inventive quartets and if you appreciate superbly played performances that capture both the letter and the spirit of Haydn's genius. The Angeles String Quartet isn't as well known as some ensembles that have recorded complete Haydn sets, but they are superior to all, with the arguable exception of the Tatrai Quartet. They demonstrate technical polish and rich, warm sound that's never cloying. And they give these works the forward-moving impetus they need within a classical framework, eschewing both anachronistic Romanticism and the mechanical astringency of period specialists.