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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf

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Waltz for Debby




  1. My Foolish Heart
  2. Waltz For Debby (Take 2)
  3. Detour Ahead (Take 2)
  4. My Romance (Take 1)
  5. Some Other Time
  6. Milestones
  7. Porgy (I Loves You Porgy)
  8. Discussing Repertoire
  9. Waltz For Debby (Take 1)
  10. Detour Ahead (Take 1)
  11. My Romance (Take 2)
Bill Evans (piano)
Scott LaFaro (bass)
Paul Motian (drums)
rec. 25 June 1961, Village Vanguard. NYC


In now-accustomed Original Jazz Classics livery comes this classic album, the fourth and final one by the tragically short-lived incarnation of the trio. It was completed shortly before Scott LaFaro's death in a car accident and has retained its Olympian status untarnished by the vagaries or dictates of posterity. This trio ushered in a new kind of unit, one that has - in our own time - seen its logical extension to a powerhouse trio; despite their colossal extroversion even bands so superficially alien to Evans and his group as The Bad Plus and EST would have struggled to come into being without the democratic impulses unveiled by Evans and his confreres.

Evans gave full reign to his romantic impulses in this live set, recorded at the Village Vanguard in June 1961. Even among so much that is outstanding it still pays to listen to both takes of Detour Ahead - the second take just as remarkable as the first - for the way in which fuelled by Motian's drums, LaFaro coils in and out of Evans's lines with such infallible confidence and surety. The second take of Waltz for Debby is also notable for LaFaro's multi-shaded bass solo, dextrous and propulsive, whilst Evans himself evokes the blues in his lyrical playing on My Romance. Perhaps Milestones shows the fluidity and interdependence of the trio, its fully functioning unit status, at its most exalted. It's a performance of true integration, a collective response of remarkable freedom but control, lit by elliptical prompts and all the while driven on by Motian's articulate drum patterns.

Whilst some of the pianist's many live performances in the mid 60s could sound inert - too prepared to jettison impulse for reverie - here there is perfect accord. Yes, there is audience chatter, and all the accoutrements of a live gig. Yes, the track titled `Discussing Repertoire' is something of a fiction - it's actually half a minute of barely audible chat about the next number - but in compensation we have one of the tightest, most expressive and subtle trios working at the peak of perfection, a perfection we know would be shattered all too soon.

Jonathan Woolf

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