CD Review of Waltz for Debby [vinyl edition] by Bill Evans Trio
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Bill Evans Trio:
Waltz for Debby [vinyl edition]

Reviewed by Michael Fortes


he gold standard by which all jazz piano trios are judged, Bill Evans’ legendary trio recordings at New York’s Village Vanguard on June 25, 1961 yielded both Sunday at the Village Vanguard and this album, Waltz for Debby. These recordings gained prominence not only for the seemingly effortless telepathy between Evans, drummer Paul Motian and bassist Scott LaFaro, but also for the unfortunate rarity of the trio itself – LaFaro was killed in a car accident just 10 days following these recordings.

And while Evans’ elegant, understated approach to the piano is front and center and unmistakably the glue that holds the music together (much in the same way that he made his mark with his contributions on Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue), LaFaro’s bass lines are just as much of a treat for the ears to focus on. His note choices tended towards the higher end of the scale, and he frequently played outside the usual timekeeper role, acting as much a soloist as Evans and leaving more of the rhythmic duties to Motian. He more than carries his weight, and LaFaro’s extended solo section on the Davis tune “Milestones” caps the set off with a fabulous display of teamwork that plays like a rush of adrenaline after the pretty niceties of “My Foolish Heart” and Evans’ classic title track.

The warm sound of a wooden stand-up bass and a genuine analog piano make Waltz for Debby a natural for a vinyl reissue. There is, in fact, a 180 gram double vinyl 45 RPM edition of Waltz for Debby that was made available several years back, and in all likelihood is probably the best-sounding vinyl edition of Waltz for Debby one is likely to find. The edition reviewed here, however, is not quite so fancy and high-end.

Concord’s Collectors Corner site is offering the simple, run-of-the-mill 33 1/3 RPM, standard weight LP with original art and liner notes, complete with an anachronistic note about “standard long play” monophonic systems (to think, there was a time when a two-channel stereo set-up was as exotic as a 5.1 surround sound system is today!). For those with standard, non-dog human ears, this version will do just fine. Playing back on a Gemini PT2100 direct drive DJ turntable, the sound reproduction is the best of all the Concord vinyl titles reviewed for Bullz-Eye thus far. It was a classy set when it first hit the shelves back in ’62, and it’s no less so today.

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