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Music Review: Bill Evans Trio – Waltz For Debby [Remastered]

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Bill Evans, August 16, 1929–September 15, 1980, is regarded as one of the best and most influential jazz pianists of all time. The apex of his work was the four albums he recorded as the Bill Evans Trio with bassist Scott Lafaro and drummer Paul Motian.

They expanded both the jazz trio concept through their interplay and individual solos, plus the use of the piano as an interactive jazz instrument. Evans would almost deconstruct a song through his skill at the piano. They would set a standard that many jazz artists would follow in the future.

Waltz For Debby was one of two albums recorded at the Village Vanguard on June 25, 1961, during a five-set performance. It was the last release by his original trio as Lafaro was killed in a car accident less than two weeks after its appearance.

Waltz For Debby remains a Bill Evans classic and a milestone in the history of jazz music. Released during late 1961, it now returns as a part of The Concord Music Group’s Original Jazz Masters Series. The sound is crystal clear and five bonus tracks have been added.

While three are different takes of the album’s original songs, they remain interesting for the subtle differences that appear. “Discussing Repertoire” is only 30 seconds long and could have been eliminated. The gem is “Porgy (I Love You),” which at over six minutes presents the trio in all their interactive glory.

The original liner notes are included, which are always welcome. The written gem of the set is the four-page essay about the performance by 87-year-old Orrin Keepnews, who was one of the founders of the Riverside label on which the album was originally released. He was at the performance and was the producer for the album 49 years ago.

The title track was a musical portrait of his niece. It appeared as a short piano performance on his 1956 debut album. It returned on this album in a filled out, elongated form and would become his signature song.

“My Foolish Heart” was a pop standard that first saw life in the film of the same name where it earned an Oscar nomination. Evans would turn it into a slow tempo jazz number, a style which would be covered by generations of jazz artists that followed.

Evans was a member of The Miles Davis Sextet for eight months and while their time together was short, it would be productive for both. Evans covers Davis’ famous “Milestones.” He twists and turns the song through the use of the trio’s three instruments but is always true to its intent.

The career of Bill Evans would come to a tragic conclusion at the age of 51. His longtime use of heroin and cocaine caused his body to finally give out. He is buried in Rose Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Baron Rouge, Louisiana.

Waltz For Debby remains a classic Bill Evans release and a center piece in the history of American jazz.

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About David Bowling

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/alan-kurtz/ Alan Kurtz

    Corrections:

    Lafaro (twice on page 1) should be LaFaro
    center piece (page 2) should be centerpiece

    If Blogcritics had decent editors, many of these amateur mistakes could be avoided!

  • Jordan Richardson

    One of my favourite albums of all-time. Just wonderful stuff.

    And Alan, thanks for your absolutely invaluable contributions. I seriously think you should consider stepping up to the editorial plate, as you spend plenty of time “editing” these articles informally as it is.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/alan-kurtz/ Alan Kurtz

    Plenty of time? Hardly.

  • Jordan Richardson

    All the better, then. You could help out in a snap. Think about it.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/alan-kurtz/ Alan Kurtz

    Jordan Richardson, you and I had this same discussion less than a month ago. As I explained then, a first-rate online editor deserves to be paid at least 10¢ a word. As I understand it, that’s 10¢ a word more than Blogcritics pays. And, as Robert Blake used to say as Baretta, “That’s the name of that tune.”

  • Jordan Richardson

    I just figured you wouldn’t mind chipping in on account of how much unpaid editing you’re doing in these threads as it is. Your rodeo, though.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/alan-kurtz/ Alan Kurtz

    There you go again. First you claimed I was spending “plenty of time.” I replied, “Hardly.”

    Now you refer to “how much unpaid editing you’re doing.” How much? Practically none! You don’t realize that, given my experience and expertise, mistakes just pop off the page at me, unbidden. So all I do is read, for example, this Bill Evans review once. Then I spend at most 15-20 seconds posting corrections. Maybe you think that’s a lot of time, but I sure don’t.

  • Jordan Richardson

    Then it shouldn’t be a problem to dedicate minuscule time and effort in a formal capacity to improve the quality of the site, should it?

    You’re not being paid to do it in the comments section, so why not not be paid to do it in a more useful arena? You do seem to know the value of an editor, after all, and it would do many a “clumsy” writer good to have such an effortless expert chiming in.

    Unless, of course, you’re not actually leaving these comments for the good of the writers…

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/alan-kurtz/ Alan Kurtz

    You’re confusing my role as kibitzer, which demands next to no time, with that of an editor, which demands a considerable amount of time. (That’s one of the main reasons I believe I an editor deserves to be paid.)

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/alan-kurtz/ Alan Kurtz

    Anyone who disagrees with me and believes that online editors do not deserve to be paid, and that readers are better served by nonprofessionals with dubious skills and experience, is welcome to chime in here.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/an roger nowosielski

    I don’t see why Jordan excuses an essentially exploitative system. I understand that as per his recent resume, he does include his BC contributions as part of his ever-developing portfolio. But come on, to build one’s career by recourse to an organization whose success has been built on the backs of talented fellow artists, not only ill-paid but all-too-often derided, certainly should be objectionable.

  • Jordan Richardson

    Roger misreads my comments for about the 100000000th time. That you claim to know about my “resume” is kind of creepy, too.

    Yes, I do use some of my Blogcritics work as a part of my portfolio. Any serious writer would use as much of his or her work as possible to build a solid portfolio. That’s how this shit works, Roger. Sometimes, believe it or not, people do things FOR FREE. Ooooooh scary.

    I never once argued that the editors shouldn’t be paid, either. Never have, never will. And I certainly don’t write for Blogcritics primarily, either. I do it, by and large, for fun and for a little extra push in the right direction.

  • Jordan Richardson

    Seems to me you’ve pooped out a few articles here yourself, Roger.

    What would you call that? Or have you had a change of heart because you didn’t get the “results” you were hoping for?

  • Jordan Richardson

    And incidentally, Alan, I was honestly and seriously suggesting that you become an editor. Not to make some sort of stupid point, not to be a prick, not to prove something.

    But because I thought it would a fucking NICE thing for someone like you do to.

    My mistake.