Wednesday, May 31, 2006

30. Bill Evans - Sunday At The Village Vanguard (1961)

Track Listing

1. Gloria's Step (Take 2)
2. Gloria's Step (Take 3)
3. My Man's Gone Now
4. Solar
5. Alice In Wonderland (Take 2)
6. Alice In Wonderland (Take 1)
7. All Of You (Take 2)
8. All Of You (Take 3)
9. Jade Visions (Take 2)
10. Jade Visions (Take 1)


This is probably the most demanding album reviewed here until now. Also it is the only album from 1961. This album demands quite a bit of commitment from the listeners part, you can have it in the background as some cool Jazz music but you won't really get any of it unless you give it a good active listening. We all know already how great a pianist Bill Evans is due to the fact that he contributed significantly to the materpiece that is Kind of Blue. Nonetheless, this album permits him to shine much more, and although he is not playing alone, it is definitely his piano playing that comes across more strongly.

This said one can in no way ignore the work of LeFaro here, he is the tremendous bassist that you will hear in most of these tracks, also, he died ten days after recording this, so it is probably his last recorded performance. So, this is an album which is all about virtuosity, particularly Evans' and LeFaro's. This is a demanding album because the harmonics here are not at all standard. Most tracks have a main theme, but that quickly turns into some very impressive moments of virtuoso improv. which are still very pleseant to the ear.

This is indeed what I think Evans manages to do so well here, and that it to me the mark of a great Jazz album, to be able to at the same time challenge you while not putting you off. And this is where a lot of modern jazz went wrong. If you listen to Song X for example you will be almost immediately put off, and only through preserverence will you be able to find anything likable there. On the other hand Kind of Blue, Time Out and this are immediately likable but will reward repeated listenings with extra layers.

All in all a great album, although it can however become a bit repetitive, so I wouldn't call it everyday listening, unless you have it very much as background music, which it does suit itself to. You can stream it from Napster or buy it from Amazon either in the US or UK.

Track Highlights

1. Alice in Wonderland (Take 2)
2. Jade Visions (Take 2)
3. Solar
4. Gloria's Step (Take 2)

Final Grade



For Bill Evans Heroine was his Heroine...

From Wikipedia:

The collaboration between Evans and the talented young bassist LaFaro was particularly fruitful, with the two achieving an unprecedented level of musical empathy. The trio recorded four albums: Portrait in Jazz (1959), Explorations, Sunday at the Village Vanguard, and Waltz for Debby (all recorded in 1961). The latter two albums are live recordings, both drawn from the same recording date; in 2005, the full sets were collected on the three-CD set The Complete Village Vanguard Recordings, 1961.

Evans's chemical dependency problems most likely began during his stint with Miles Davis in the late 1950s. A heroin addict for most of his career, his health was generally poor and his financial situation worse for most of the 1960s. In the late 1970s, cocaine became a serious problem for Evans. His body finally gave out in 1980, when Evans, ravaged by psychoactive drugs, a perforated liver, and a lifelong battle with hepatitis, died in New York City of bronchial pneumonia.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is, like, only my favorite jazz album of all time. And my preferred track is also "Alice in Wonderland".