PE0357. THE BILL EVANS TRIO AT THE VILLAGE VANGUARD, 1961. Riverside RCD 9376.
"It is the afternoon of a Sunday in New York City, June 1961. Producer Orrin Keepnews, head of the independent jazz label Riverside, descends the stairs to the basement at 178 7th avenue, a small wedge-shaped room with low ceilings, known to jazz enthusiasts as the Village Vanguard. The simple looking room is an ideal spot for jazz performances. For unexplained reasons it has one of the best acoustics for a live setting, making it ideal for capturing on tape jazz artists who are booked to play there. Together with sound engineer Dave Jones they setup the Ampex portable tape machine on a table close to the bandstand. They have a moment of panic when the power to the tape recorder quits, but luckily it is quickly restored. They have a full day of recording ahead of them, for Sundays are known to feature the same artist playing two matinee and three evening sets. There is no room for errors, because this is the last day of a two-week engagement by an artist quite reluctant to go into a studio and record new material. And so unfolds the story of one of the most revered recordings in modern jazz, THE BILL EVANS TRIO AT THE VILLAGE VANGUARD.
SUNDAY AT THE VILLAGE VANGUARD is a live album by jazz pianist and composer Bill Evans and his Trio consisting of Evans, bassist Scott LaFaro, and drummer Paul Motian. Released in 1961, the album is routinely ranked as one of the best live jazz recordings of all time.
SUNDAY AT THE VILLAGE VANGUARD was drawn from material recorded on June 25, 1961, at the Village Vanguard in New York City. The trio played five sets - two in the afternoon and three in the evening - each one comprising four or five numbers and lasting about half an hour. This was the last performance by the Bill Evans Trio with bassist Scott LaFaro, who was killed in a car accident eleven days after the recording.
Evans and producer Orrin Keepnews reportedly selected the tracks for SUNDAY AT THE VILLAGE VANGUARD to best feature LaFaro's masterly performance on bass, beginning and ending with two tracks ("Gloria's Step" and "Jade Visions") written by LaFaro himself, and with all the others featuring solos by him.
- THE MUSIC AFICIONADO, 16 May, 2018
"In numerous interviews Evans has paid tribute to what he always considered to be his finest trio: 'I am thankful that we recorded that day, because it was the last time I saw Scott and the last time we would play together. When you have evolved a concept of playing which depends on the specific personalities of outstanding players, how do you start again when they are gone?'
After this recording at the Village Vanguard and the death of LaFaro, became one of the extreme low periods in the life and career of Evans. He did not play for many months, not even at home."